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Mayor Jermaine Wilson and Second Chances

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2023

This podcast episode features a conversation between host Karen Friedman and the mayor of Leavenworth, Kansas, Jermaine Wilson, about his journey from a maximum-security prison inmate to the highest elected office in his hometown.


In this Justice Today episode, host and director of Criminal Justice Innovation, Development, and Engagement at the Office of Justice Programs’ Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) speaks with Mayor Wilson of Leavenworth, Kansas about his life and career. Mayor Wilson describes how he was arrested for the first time at age 12, was in a gang by age 19, and as an adult was incarcerated in a maximum-security facility, where his life trajectory changed and he was able to get clean, and take advantage of opportunities made available while incarcerated, including a program run by the nonprofit organization, Prison Fellowship. He describes how he views the title of “Mayor” as an opportunity to create change and views himself as a servant-leader, and how he views his earlier behavior that led to incarceration, and how the Prison Fellowship program works to serve prisoners, former prisoners, and their families. He also discusses the Angel Tree Program, which equips churches and strengthens relationships between incarcerated parents and their children. Mayor Wilson next lays out some challenges he faced as he transitioned from incarceration back into society; how he broke his family’s cycle of incarceration; and shares advice on how others can take advantage of their own second chance and how communities can create a culture that supports those who are striving to improve their lives and re-establish themselves.

Date Published: April 1, 2023