*It’s been a little over two years since Los Angeles community activist Najee Ali pleaded guilty to bribery and was sentenced to four years in state prison.
With less than a week to go before his release, I talked to Najee Ali about his time in prison, current prison conditions, inmate cell phone use in prison, his plans once out, and his thoughts on today’s current political climate including the election of State Attorney General Kamalah Harris, Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, Governor Jerry Brown, and President Barack Obama.
Known for being an outspoken critic of law enforcement, Ali, 47, was accused of attempting to intimidate and bribe a witness on behalf his daughter Jasmin Eskew who was charged with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of leaving the scene of an accident.
Back in 2007, Eskew, was involved in an accident with a group of motorcyclists on the San Bernardino Freeway. While she was eventually found not guilty, her father agreed to plead guilty with the understanding that he’d serve approximately 85 percent of his time.
Because of a prior conviction for robbery in 1992 and a probation violation on a felony hit-and-run and perjury, instead of the two years he was eligible to receive, his time was doubled to four.
On Friday, March 18, Najee Ali will be released from Avenal State Prison in Central California where he has served out the majority of his sentence.
The largest among California prisons, Avenal is a Level II (low-medium security) male only dormitory style prison designed for a maximum occupancy of 2,920 inmates, but whose total institution population is currently over 7,500. It has been dubbed the most overcrowded prison in California and in September 2009, fighting between Latino gangs left 11 inmates hospitalized.
There will be a community gathering to welcome Najee Ali home Saturday, March 19 at Lucy Florence Coffee House and Cultural Center in Leimert Park from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., 3351 West 43rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90008-4521,
Download interview audio here.