New York Legislature has just Sworn in an Ex-convict

Eddie Gibbs on Thursday was sworn in to be a new member of the New York State Assembly, becoming the first former prisoner to serve in the state legislature.

Gibbs, 53, won a special election to New York's 68th district on Jan. 18, following a vacancy left by Robert Rodriguez, who joined Gov. Kathy Hochul's (D) administration.

Though he easily won the election, Gibbs told Reutersbefore his inauguration it would be difficult to shake the stigma of his manslaughter conviction more than 30 years ago.

Gibbs said his victory is a way to champion the rights of formerly incarcerated individuals and show what can be accomplished despite the limitations of a criminal record.

"You think about the millions of ex-offenders who will probably hear what’s happening, and you can either inspire these guys to change their lives around. You can inspire these guys to want more and do more," he told City & State New York. "So there’s a responsibility attached to this. It’s bigger than me."

Hailing from the Harlem side of New York City, Gibbs was "shaped by his upbringing in East Harlem where he grew up with limited financial resources and tough prospects for the future," according to his biography page on the New York State Legislature website.

In 1988, a 17-year-old Gibbs was attacked in an elevator during an attempted robbery. The man forced him to open a safe, which contained a gun Gibbs used to kill the robber, Reuters reported.

Gibbs turned himself in and served about four years in prison. But Gibbs turned his life around even before he got out on parole, earning a degree in business administration from Cayuga Community College. Outside of prison, Gibbs became a community activist for more than 20 years, including by assisting the elderly and other vulnerable people during the pandemic.

As an elected official, Gibbs hopes to advocate for criminal justice and bail reform, he told Amsterdam News. But he still worries about succeeding in the role.

“I am scared, I’m nervous. It’s a huge responsibility," he told the outlet. "You can’t fail and I don’t want to fail because people say I told

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