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Kamal Karriem

"Kamal Karriem," graphite on paper, 12¾″ × 17″. 2022

Kamal Karriem

Kamal Karriem lost his voting rights because of racist Mississippi laws that strip voting rights away from inmates and formerly incarcerated people

In 2005, Kamal Karriem, a former city council member, was convicted of embezzlement for loaning a city-issued cell phone to another person who made approximately $500 in telephone calls.

Karriem spent ten years under the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. “Once you get into the system, you are no longer treated as a human being. Your humanity goes out the system, whether you’re in prison, jail… all you are is a number,” he said in a 2021 phone interview. Karriem, like all formerly incarcerated Mississippians, no longer has the right to vote.

He is currently advocating to eliminate stigma around incarceration and to restore voting rights of formerly incarcerated persons. Taking voting rights away from formerly incarcerated people infringes on their basic human rights and dignity.  

Artwork and article by Joe Ward, published June 28th, 2023

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