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DC Jail Inmate Becomes Elected Official in Historic First


Joel Caston, an inmate serving time for murder at the DC jail, was elected on Tuesday for a seat on the city’s Ward 7 Advisory Neighborhood Commission.

Having won the first-of-its-kind election, Caston will be representing a district that includes the 1,400 inmates held at the DC jail, and residents of Harriet Tubman Women’s Shelter in Southeast Washington.

The 44-year-old inmate will be the first person to hold the post, which was created 10 years ago.

Five candidates competed in the special election, in which DC jail inmates cast a majority of the votes.

Caston has been incarcerated for almost three decades. He was convicted of murder in the 1990s after he reportedly shot and killed a person when he was 18.

Throughout his time behind bars, he has taken part in various programs, including ones, where he served as a mentor or has taught financial literacy classes to his fellow inmates. He also helped start a jail newspaper.

Prior to the DC jail, he was held at federal prisons. He is now hoping to get an early release under a District law that paves the way for convicts who committed crimes as minors to have their sentences reduced following 15 years they served in prison.

“My platform will be used to restore the dignity of incarcerated people so that we will no longer be judged by our worst mistake,” Caston told WUSA9 before the election. “Imagine a single-member district, where every voice matters, every concern is heard, and every person is valued.”

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