Sharpton, Koch Offer Criminal Rehab Plan

The Reverend Al Sharpton, a controversial New York political figure, shared the Harvard Law School (HLS) stage with former New York City Mayor--and Sharpton's former adversary--Edward I. Koch yesterday.

The two seemed on good terms as they, along with Climenko Professor of Law Charles J. Ogletree, proposed a program to help rehabilitate non-violent criminals by reintegrating them into society.

Sharpton said that, despite continuing differences with Koch on other issues, he is glad they are collaborating on the criminal rehabilitation project.


"America is at its best when people, without losing their identity, work with others, who retain their identities, for a cause bigger than themselves," Sharpton said.

In the program they proposed, offenders could apply to have a judge seal their criminal records--if they get education and treatment for drug problems, thus proving their desire to go back into society.

Currently, Koch said, people who come out of prison are treated as "pariahs" and cannot find jobs or support families.

Sharpton said that while searching for former classmates to interview for his 1996 autobiography, he found that many of them had died or were in jail due to crime.

"We must give the collective community a second chance to go beyond rhetoric and open wounds and help people who have become permanent pariahs," he said.

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