In Conversation: Hugo Mack, candidate for Washtenaw County Prosecutor

Wednesday, June 24, 2020 - 6:39pm

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Editor’s Note: The Michigan Daily does not officially endorse Hugo Mack for prosecutor. This story is one in a series of stories profiling the candidates for Washtenaw County Prosecutor. The Daily previously interviewed Arianne Slay and is continuing to reach out to other candidates for comments and interviews.

Hugo Mack, an Ypsilanti-based lawyer, argues his 10 years in prison make him a unique candidate for Washtenaw County Prosecutor because of his immense knowledge of the justice system. In May of 1993, Mack’s license to practice law in the state of Michigan was suspended after he was found guilty of first-degree sexual misconduct and felonious assault. He currently remains on the Michigan’s sex offender registry, but Mack claims he was wrongfully accused. 

“From my own experience, I understand what it's like to be a victim of an unjust conviction incarceration,” Mack said. “I understand what it's like to fight your way through a penitentiary for 10 years with integrity. I understand what it's like to talk to an entire Michigan parole board. I’ve stood on my integrity as an innocent person wrongfully convicted for 10 years.”

Mack said he was unable to be offered parole due to the fact that he never admitted to being guilty. He said he stood by his integrity for the entirety of his 10 year sentence.

“The parole board told me I was an excellent candidate for parole,” Mack said. “But we are not going to release you because you’ve never ever said you’re guilty. We do not release people who don’'t say that they’re guilty. I’ve lived on my integrity for 10 years. I’m prepared to go back and die in this penitentiary if necessary with my integrity.”

When speaking about the accusations of racism in the system and police brutality in Washtenaw County, Mack emphasized the importance of race versus not seeing color.  

“You see, race does matter when police officers come to a scene,” Mack said. “Race does matter when police officers are deciding what kind of force to use. Race does matter when the police officers are filling out a police report. Race does matter when the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office are looking at police reports, deciding what charges to file. Race does matter and is implicit in the system — as ubiquitous as air itself.”

Mack said he used his time in prison to strengthen his campaign and add a unique take on what the justice system is like. He noted he is able to understand the system not only from the outside, but also the inside. 

“I want people to know that when you view me, view my humanity, view a person that has come back from astronomical odds to offer their services to the community,” Mack said. “Understand that the citizens have a once in a millennium opportunity to elect a person who knows the system not only from the outside in as an expert, but from the inside out.”

Mack also emphasized the importance of respecting the role of a victim no matter the type.

“Sometimes, you know, when you go through a terrible experience, it makes you able to protect and defend other people,” Mack said. “And when you’re a victim, whether that means you're a victim of domestic violence, whether that means you’re a victim of gun violence, victim of racial violence, a victim of drug violence, a victim of a wrongful conviction carceral, your victimization must be respected.”

Daily Staff Reporter Brayden Hirsch can be reached at braydenh@umich.edu.