“I’ve locked up more people than most people in America,” former Washington, D.C., police chief Isaac Fulwood told the Washington Post. “Nobody could call me soft on crime,” he says. “Nobody.” Now Fulwood, 65, is serving a six-year term on the U.S. Parole Commission. One of his cases involves Veronza Bowers, a former Black Panther and self-proclaimed “political prisoner” who has been behind bars more than 30 years for killing a white law enforcement officer.
For the first time, he agreed to talk publicly and at length about what it means to be a black man who put other black men in a cell, says the Post. “The Bowers case, to me, is the whole ballgame,” Fulwood says. “You have to ask yourself the question: Do you ever forgive a black person when they do something wrong? That’s why the issue — rehabilitation and reform — can turn on the issue of race. Would Bowers still be locked up if he had killed me — a black man?” Fulwood — one of two blacks, along with Cranston J. Mitchell, on the commission — says spending less money on prison programs, release programs, and substance abuse programs will foretell disaster: “With less money you do less.” He keeps trying to push the debate to acknowledge the realities of race in sentencing. “Most of the people I deal with look like me,” Fulwood says of inmates. “And when I say it at these meetings, you can hear a rat [peeing] on cotton.”