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Member Spotlight: Meet Akiem

Akiem might catch your attention with his sharp sense of style, but once you get to know him he’ll impress you with his sharp, analytical insights.

Akiem has been involved with Out for Justice for over two years, offering to lend a hand with events whenever he can work it into his busy schedule as a student. Later this year, Akiem will graduate from Morgan State University with his Actuarial Science Degree, but he’s more interested in learning the process of analyzing statistics and calculating risk than getting into the insurance industry. Akiem has always had a passion for learning-- particularly in math and technology. His first job at 15 was teaching youth how to use computers at a summer camp, and by the time he graduated high school he could take apart a computer and put it back together. He hopes to continue his academic passions by continuing on to get his doctorate, and from there, open his own consulting business.

Just like in solving a complex equation, Akiem wants to find out how all things -- and people -- work. When he hears someone say “That just doesn’t make sense,” he would respond, “Everything makes sense if you just look at it from the right angle.”

While incarcerated, Akiem’s inquisitive nature kicked in when thinking about the criminal justice system -- and ultimately led him to take action with Out for Justice. A friend once told him that the system wasn’t set up to rehabilitate people, and it clicked for him -- as long as the prison industrial complex is making money, there’s no incentive for them to stop people from coming back. He feels like people can be set up to fail -- once you serve your sentence you should have paid for your crime, but he feels like people get a second sentence once they get out; now they’re marked, and not given the opportunity to become fully productive citizens again.

Akiem’s planning to break that cycle for himself and others -- and be an example of success. He believes the work of Out for Justice is necessary to hold our criminal justice system accountable, and put checks on people in power, and is looking forward to getting more involved in the Research Committee. Not everyone is excited by complex legislative analysis, but even while behind the walls, Akiem loved analyzing legal briefs and court cases. He said it made sense to him after the bureaucracy and structure of the Navy, where he served on a submarine for five years.

Akiem realizes that he’s had many opportunities to pursue his education, and break from old habits after he completed his sentence, and feels like it’s his responsibility to speak up for other returning citizens and those still incarcerated who don’t have that same opportunity-- and to stay vigilant in advocating for policy change.

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