Gov. Mike Beebe announced Friday his intention to grant pardons to nine Arkansans, including a man who claimed to have founded Little Rock’s “Original Gangster Crips” in the early 1990s and spent nearly 10 years in prison on drug convictions.Leifel Jackson, 47, known as “O.G.” during his criminal days, said that during his time in prison, he learned to read and began thinking about the damage his drug dealing had caused.After his release in 2001, Jackson began working with organizations tackling youth violence, activities that authorities cite in support of his pardon.
Beebe spokesman Matt De-Cample said he knew of no law enforcement agencies that opposed the proposed pardon.“I can tell you generally that any pardon application that we look through, what the person has done with their life since their conviction and jail time is taken into consideration,” De-Cample said.Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley, who normally objects to pardons for convicted felons, didn’t oppose Jackson’s application “Given my track record of raising Cain about clemencies in the past, this is one where I think the power can be exercised properly,” Jegley said.“I’ve been watching Leifel Jackson since he got out of prison ... and I’ve had several conversations with him.”Jegley said Jackson has given him some insight into what is happening on the streets.
“He’s not a snitch, don’t get me wrong, but he has a perspective that is helpful,” the prosecutor said.Jegley said any doubts about Jackson’s sincerity were overtaken by the man’s good intentions since his release.“At first I was a little skeptical, but I’ve been convinced, not because of anything he’s told me, but because he’s shown me that he has turned his life around,” Jegley said. “I wish more of the people who go through the system could say the same thing.”Attempts to reach Jackson on Friday were unsuccessful.Jackson was featured in a pair of HBO documentaries on gangs in Little Rock, the second of which concentrated on his efforts to keep children out of gangs. He founded the group Reaching Our Children and Neighborhoods.
The program works with 60 children between the ages of 6 and 18, giving them a place to gather after school and during the summer to study and play.“We give them an opportunity to just be kids,” Jackson said, in an October interview with Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc.’s weekly publication Sync. “To be kids and be around other kids.“We deal with academics, but we deal with behavior as well,” he told the publication. “A lot of kids are not able to be kids today. They have to grow up so fast. ROCAN plays a part in giving them a chance to be a kid long term. It gives them a safe place to be a kid.”Maumelle Police Chief Sam Williams, who spent more than 20 years with the Little Rock Police Department, several of them as commander of the department’s Special Investigations Division, had a different perspective on Jackson’s proposed pardon.“If the authorities that are making those decisions feel like he’s eligible for a pardon, I can’t argue,” Williams said. “Maybe he has turned his life around, but I’m always skeptical.“I do know this - during the course of his life he did a lot of harm, but he would probably be the first or second person to admit that,” Williams said.“He dealt a lot of dope,” Williams said. “I can tell you that.”
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