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Interview: Kwame Kilpatrick Speaks Out From Behind Bars

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AP, File

AP, File

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DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – During the past year that Kwame Kilpatrick has spent in Michigan prisons, Detroit’s ex-mayor has had plenty of time to ponder the divide between a once-promising public service career that included shaking hands with U.S. Presidents, but now gets spent rubbing elbows and swapping tales with murderers, rapists and common thieves.

It’s Kilpatrick like we have never heard before.

“I lied on the stand about a relationship that I had, a romantic relationship,” Kilpatrick said in a telephone interview with the Associated Press from the Cotton Correctional Facility in Jackson County.

“Yes, I broke the law. Yes, I shouldn’t have done it. Yes, I’m overcome with sorrow and hurt from pain that I’ve caused my wife and family by it. What happened after that was a snowball campaign into all types of things that are totally unrelated to me,” he said.

Kilpatrick, 40, is serving up to five years for violating probation in a 2008 criminal case that followed charges of perjuries for lies he told on the stand a year earlier during a civil lawsuit.

Married, Kilpatrick denied having an affair with a top aide. Text messages left on city-issued pagers contradicted his statements.

Kilpatrick told the AP that he will address the affair, its impact on his wife and three sons and how it all led to his resignation as Mayor in “Surrendered! The Rise, Fall and Revelation of Kwame Kilpatrick.” The book is expected to be released Aug. 1.

“One of the reasons I’m writing this book is I want to show how that was magnified and morphed into being something completely different than what it started as,” he said.

In the roughly 30-minute conversation, Kilpatrick discussed life and violence behind bars.

“Since I’ve been here I’ve seen … People stomped to within an inch of their lives,” he said. “This shouldn’t be a place where people whimsically, politically send you to exercise some kind of point.”

Kilpatrick said he passes the time behind bars by reading and tutoring fellow inmates seeking GED diplomas.

“I’m a teacher at heart and so I’ve managed to channel that into engaging people in way that it makes them more productive,” he said.

“You have conversations with yourself. You bounce ideas off yourself. It’s just you and the walls,” he said. “What you learn is that there are the potential for greatness and potential for evil in each one of us. You begin to have conversations with both of those individuals.”

He also said he works out, plays center on a prison basketball team and has dropped about 50 pounds from his six-foot-four-inch frame.

“I went from meeting with Presidents and world leaders to sitting in the hole, being handcuffed taken to the shower,” Kilpatrick said. “And it was in that womb … That ‘Surrendered’ was born. It was an opportunity for me wanting to say ‘I’m sorry’ to myself and to all the people that I hurt, and then learn how to forgive myself enough so I can start fighting back to be the husband, the father and the man that I believe God wanted me to be.”

A Michigan parole board last month did not decide if Kilpatrick will be released when he’s eligible in late July. He also faces federal corruption charges.

When he is once again free, Kilpatrick said his plans include public speaking, consulting and running other people’s political campaigns. They do not include a return to elected office.

“I don’t want to work for anybody ever again. I need to work and be in my own company,” Kilpatrick said. “I have set up a great deal of opportunities for myself, and opportunities to first make reconciliation to the City of Detroit. More than anything else, I have been given a great amount of gifts and there are people, fortunately, who want for me to help them.”

Kilpatrick would not discuss the business deal behind the book or how much of the profits will come his way. He still owes $860,770 in court-ordered restitution to the City of Detroit as part of his plea deal in the 2008 criminal case, Corrections Spokesman Russ Marlan said.

“Any money that I make – any dime, any penny I make – will go to pay restitution,” Kilpatrick said. “One of the things I’ve learned over the past year is to be a man of my word.”

At $26.95 each, more than 31,800 copies of the book would have to be sold to raise that much money, but it’s unclear how much of each book sold would be profit.

“We will be using our legal remedies to obtain restitution from any book sales,” said Maria Miller, a spokeswoman for Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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