Bernard Kerik's Journey From Jailer to the Jailed

Former NYPD commissioner opens up about his fall from grace in a new post-prison memoir.
12:29 | 04/01/15

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Transcript for Bernard Kerik's Journey From Jailer to the Jailed
He was one of the heroes of 9/11 here in New York. President Bush picked him to be secretary of Homeland Security. Former new York city police commissioner Bernard care was at the top of this profession. When it all came crashing down. In his new book raw gripping new details about his fall. From. 848. 8805. For mr. thank you for joining thank you. I tried but it's it's in there forever yet stuck with him. I want to reach try your case at all but only given the opportunity to say from your perspective. What the government did wrong in what Bernie kerik did wrong. I think it. It looked. You know I've made a number of mistakes in my life and on the way into the ways. No one's the blind. In if I could go back and you know redo my life over there are things I would think differently. But I think when you. Reach the pinnacle when your life like mine wars. The top of my career you are scrutinized looked very differently. Than others. For political reasons for selective reasons. In in my case. There are things I've gone wrong. But I think many of those things could have been handled ethically you civilly and in other ways other than criminal prosecution. That being said. The government made a choice. And as did a high. To plead guilty in the case and you know the in the end is what it is you gotta live with it. You make clear new book the part of that reason why you went ahead and wrap things up and and and took the sentence was it was cost an incredible amount of money. I have a right to defend myself to everyone go so we're you're supposed to based on the constitution. The reality is. I've learned and I think other people learned as well. That you don't have as many constitutional rights if you think you have if you don't have the money to pay for them. The legal profession is enormous. The cost of doing things like this going to trial. Are enormous and and as I said my book. One month. One month legal fees for the month of October of 2000 known for me one month. Was 476000. Dollars and more. And when you're getting bills at a 450000. Month. On the ITT on the on the you know will. Deutsche Bank you know normal person and eventually room. Now you brand now Rikers Island as you said in the open once one of the most notorious prisons in America that you've been credited by almost. All corners as helping to turn their place around. Right how did that experience if at all prepare you when you became the inmate when you in federal prison. Well a look at anybody that works in the correction field Weathers to jail or prison you get to know you know. What happens behind the bars so to speak where you think you do. You do not know what it's like to live as it in me. Until you actually hollering and side. You may be prepared in some ways. You are not prepared. For the deprivation of freedom which is formal profound. Than any what could mention hardest part for much of you know been with my kids. If you're as close to your kids design of its devastate. How to explain to them that you were still that same damn when you ran prisons here nick don't see you. Doubted that a mistake. And and paid for that mistake. But this force the person. The person the father the person they know. You'll have to explain that they know. You make the point I think the the average annual cost to put someone federal prisons between thousand dollars a year right but the cost goes well beyond that. You make the point and also there is the personal collateral damage that are. The reality is that's not what of course the American taxpayer because I made a lot of money before went to prison. And that money there's a the tax loss the economic spending Willis to society. For somebody like me in there are thousands like me. There's an enormous. Economic loss to society. Billions over in a blow the reported cost of incarceration. That's. To society from an economic standpoint. The collateral cost to society. From a social standpoint. He's even for more devastating than that's because. The collateral consequences of a felony conviction. Our fraternity you're convicted felons to that they go. And that means that 70% of your earnings have been diminished that means that Jimmy percent. But on average 70%. You can't get a job nine been 5% of the people that had a good job. A self sustaining job before they went to prison. They can't get that job when they get out. You can't get a job that's regulated by the government for most ports in some states you can't become a garbage man. Because that's regulated by a city your state or county in a lot but let's say. So. These are folks who broke the law therefore that's a price to in this country for breaking the law and that's the consequence you gotta deal. And and in a way that's right. Here's what society forgets. The punishment support supposed to put the chronic. With the constitution's it's in our country right now with a criminal justice system works. The punishment does not fit the crime because the punishment is eternal the punishments for ever. And here's the problem with that if we are a society that says. That we are all about rehabilitation were all about second chances were all about making people whole. Pay your debt to society. And then come back to society a better person. Can't be doesn't work. You never get done paying your debt to society number one in number two you're never really made whole ever. And if that if it impacts somebody like me negatively. Then how does it how does it impact. A young black and out of Baltimore or Washington DC your New York city's that gets picked up on a first time low level. Drug charge nonviolent drug charge he gets stuck in prison for 101520. Years. And then he comes back to society. You know one. You may as wall line all of them up in just six acute because that's what you're doing. You're diminishing an entire generation of young man. Number idea what nation you came around and partly because you had to spend more than three years in federal. Right right it and that's the problem. The American public. And members of congress. Do not understand. What the system goes and how it works. Because they've never experienced it. That and I don't that for a fact I know that for a fact because I've read in the system I read to with the biggest law enforcement organizations in this country. The NYPD and Rikers Island. A 133000. Inmates a year. Went through rikers. I thought I knew the system when I thought I'd what really well. But I. Social cost to society I do know the collateral. Economic cost toward government. I had no clue and never paid attention to either gravity I think every reason to. We've known each other for a long time I would describe you to friends before he went prisoners'. Good guy tough guy. I would describe you post prison good guy tough guy. But but if it doesn't you have changed that there is a the word is. News is humility but me. Softness. What does that I think the big thing that's changed in me is. Compassion. For people. That. That we as a country could take care rove when in fact we don't. So for you in your professional life what spending that the high point and what's been the most. In my professional life I think the high point was being nominated by President Bush for Homeland Security. You know a lot of people think that I grew up with silver spoon. You know. It's the reality was I was born in Newark. I was raised in Paterson. What the east side he before Joseph Clark ever cleaned it up. A drop that a high school in the eleventh grade and you know some thirty years later I was standing in the Oval Office being nominated to take over. Security for the entire clincher. That was definitely the high point on the low side. I think what I was remanded in court by the judge in the US marshals can be behind me to take me into custody. It's a combination of that in the day I had to surrender to prison. Those were pretty much the low points I with. And that the national perception use for a different right people I think nationally most of us of connecting those tonight eleven. Remember he has no problem between him and see you a thinner burning hair and this is much of the Brooke for a lot of folk in new York and they're they're people in this town who would say. That guy he broke the rules he lived on the edge he got caught. Good riddance. He does not deserve a second. There's listen. Take what we're fortress people out there they believe I should've gotten the death penalty. Because I didn't pay taxes in the U. But his political. Most of that's political hype again it was Indian unit was and aimed at. Mayor Giuliani who by all accounts I think even you acknowledged that the heat with someone who. Nurture your career kind of brought you along. Why did you don't pay at the it's it it's probably both. You know the reality is for a United States prosecutor. The higher that the profile. For their target. The more exposure they object. More promotional opportunities they hat. No what let things. Think about you that you are in many ways example of the American street people rightful. A man from very modest means it's very modest me try. I know your your Baxter he wrote about it in your first book. They knew rise to the top of your profession then you have this fall again. It is a possible 444. A comeback editing you turn sixty I think this year. Know why yet there to do that. He had this year turned sixty. Old man who abducted but. If you know is it possible for a comeback I don't know that the problem is what I do best. You know managing leading men and women. You know in government in policing. And you know and fixing things. It's going to be hard to pack where most. Bernie kerik thank you so much. Thank you sir.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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