Washington, D.C., inmate becomes first incarcerated person in city to win elected office
A Washington, D.C. inmate became the first person in jail in the city to win an elected office on Tuesday.
Joel Caston, 44, won the race to be the neighborhood advisory officer of District 7F07 in southeast DC, where he will oversee the Harriet Tubman Women's Shelter, new luxury homes, and the DC Prison - where he is incarcerated.
D.C. Jail houses 1,400 male and female inmates and the Harriet Tubman Women's Shelter serves up to 175 women per night.
Joel Caston, winner of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission's 7F07 electoral seat to the D.C. Jail and a new townhouse development, both located on Capitol Hill. (DOC / via Neighbors for Justice)
Neighborhood Advisory Commissioners are locally elected representatives who have been in office for two years without pay and were "formed to bring the government closer to the people," according to DC.gov. The seat has been vacant for 12 years and although elections usually take place in November, no winner could be announced last year for technical reasons.
Caston, who competed against four other inmates, received 48 of the 142 votes, according to Neighbors for Justice, an organization that facilitated the election.
Each inmate shot a video with the help of the Department of Corrections announcing their course. Caston made a promise in his video to his fellow inmates, the women in the Harriet Tubman Shelter and their neighbors in the luxury apartments that he would work hard to meet all of their needs.
"Imagine a single-member district where every vote counts, every cause is heard, and every person is valued," Caston said.
Caston has been jailed since he was 18 for committing a crime, Neighbors for Justice founder Julie Johnson told NBC News.
He wrote in his candidate poll that he served as a worship leader and newspaper editor in prison. He was also the founding mentor of the Young Men Emerging Program and the author of a letter on criminal justice reform.
Caston "is a natural leader and a kind, intelligent, and thoughtful person," said Johnson.
"This election gives hope to the prisoners as they know they now have a representative who will give voice and visibility to the issues they are experiencing," she said.
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