In the photo on the left, courtesy of the Michigan Department of Corrections, Jordan David Haskins can be seen before he began serving a yearlong term in state prison. On the right is a photograph of Haskins, taken by The Saginaw News after the then-23-year-old filed as the lone Republican candidate to run for the Michigan House of Representatives 95th District seat in 2014. (File | MLive.com)
— Jordan D. Haskins cannot own a firearm. For the majority of his adult life, he could neither vote nor serve on a jury.
But a checkered past that includes stints in prison systems in two states and his current status as a parolee does not preclude the 24-year-old Saginaw man from running for office.
Haskins says he knows his criminal record works against him, but he's undeterred.
"Those are things that haunt me to this day," Haskins said. "I'm just trying to move on from that and do what I can."
Haskins' criminal charges stem from trespassing on private and public property in four cases from April 2010 to January 2011, when he was sent to prison. As part of the break-ins, he started vehicles to facilitate an uncommon sexual fetish Haskins called "cranking" in interviews with police.
Haskins says his life has changed and he hopes voters will see him not for what he once was, but for who he is and what he wants to do for his community.
"I have dreams, and I want to make a difference," he said.
Come November, Haskins will appear as the Republican candidate on the ballot seeking election to Michigan's 95th District House seat. State Rep. Stacy Erwin Oakes, D-Saginaw, created a wide-open race when she announced her plan to run for state Senate.
Haskins will face the winner of the August Democratic primary, in which Norman Braddock, a former Saginaw city councilman, and Bridgeport Township Trustee Vanessa Guerra are facing off.
Full coverage of the 95th State House District election
The 95th District consists of the cities of Saginaw and Zilwaukee and the townships of Kochville, Zilwaukee, Carrollton, Buena Vista, Bridgeport, Spaulding and James.
'Young and stupid'
Haskins' legal trouble dates to his teen years, prison records show.
Haskins said he has a juvenile record that includes break-in-related charges from when he was 15. He said he spent two days in a juvenile facility.
Haskins said his crimes focused mainly on breaking into cars and joyriding.
"I was just a lonely, angry kid at the time," he said. "If anything, I could be put on 'World's Dumbest Criminals.'"
Haskins said he was drawn to criminal behavior for the "the thrill."
I was in a messed-up state of mind mentally and emotionally when I did what I did. That's the only way I can even explain it. - Jordan Haskins
"I was bored," he said. "It was the rush."
Haskins grew up in Saginaw and lived in Raleigh, North Carolina, from 2006 to 2010.
North Carolina's Department of Public Safety reports a lengthy list of sentences to prison, county jail and probation for offenses Haskins committed in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. The offenses include breaking and entering, larceny and trespassing.
After moving to Michigan, Haskins faced multiple charges for similar offenses in 2010 and 2011.
Haskins was released from North Carolina's state prison system in August 2009.
Seven months later, he committed his first offense in Michigan. It resulted in a sentence of 55 days in jail, plus a probation term.
Misdemeanor charges of unlawful use of a motor vehicle and malicious destruction of property resulted from separate incidents in both March and April 2010 at the Saginaw County Mosquito Control property at 211 Congress in Saginaw.
Haskins admitted to police that, on both occasions, he broke into the yard where vehicles were parked, incident reports from the Saginaw County Sheriff's Department show. He said he pulled spark plug wires on sheriff, mosquito control and other vehicles parked there.
"Jordan would remove the spark plug wires and sit in the car and masturbate while the motor was sparking and making noises," the police report states.
Haskins was charged with additional misdemeanor offenses related to a third incident at the mosquito control property in October 2010.
According to that incident report, Haskins again said that he damaged county vehicles by pulling spark plug wires to "masturbate while cranking the engine." Deputies said he told them the act is a sexual fetish he learned about online.
Haskins told The Saginaw News that he has difficulty explaining what drove him to again and again repeat that behavior.
"I was in a messed-up state of mind mentally and emotionally when I did what I did," he said. "That's the only way I can even explain it."
After pleading guilty to charges in the 2010 cases, Haskins was sentenced to 55 days in jail and a one-year probation term. He violated probation in October 2011 when he was found guilty of several new felony offenses related to a similar incident that took place in January 2011.
According to police reports, Haskins said he jumped a fence at the city of Saginaw's parking lot at 1435 S. Washington on Jan. 7, 2011. He told sheriff's deputies in a later interview that he went joyriding in the parking lot and masturbated in a city police cruiser and a city pickup, the report shows.
On Jan. 24, 2011, according to police reports, Haskins jumped a chain-link fence and opened a garage door at Scientific Brake, 314 W. Genesee. Then he drove a truck on the grounds, he told police. Again, police reports state he admitted to "listening to the engine idle and masturbating."
The charges in the Jan. 7, 2011, incident were dismissed as part of a plea agreement in the Scientific Brake case. Haskins pleaded no contest in September 2011 to counts of breaking and entering a building with intent, unlawful driving away of an automobile and malicious destruction of personal property. Haskins was sentenced to one year and eight months in prison and was ordered to pay $10,430 in restitution.
Read the police reports, received through a Freedom of Information Act request to the Saginaw County Sheriff's Department, from four police reports:
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Haskins told The Saginaw News that the danger of breaking into secure lots and using a police car to facilitate his behavior was part of the draw.
"It was just the fun and the risk and the thrill," he said.
Haskins explains his past behavior as a time of acting "stupid."
"I kind of got into a whole phase of my life where I was young and stupid, you know," Haskins said. "I really had no friends at the time. I didn't really know what I wanted to do. I was one of those young people who grew up without a father in the house, grew up with his grandmother and his mom. I just didn't really know what I wanted to do, what my purpose was, where I wanted to go."
But he says his time in prison was a wake-up call that helped him become hard-working and driven. He said his days of engaging in the practice are behind him.
"It finally woke me up to some things," Haskins said.
"That isn't even me anymore. I'm not sure what really changed or what happened. I don't know what it is about when you get into your 20s. Your chemistry changes. You get wiser and smarter a little bit. That's what happened to me."
A sense of duty
Today, Haskins said he has nearly completed his parole. According to the Michigan Department of Corrections, Haskins is scheduled to be discharged from parole on Oct. 23, 11 days before Election Day.
He plans to work this summer on his election campaign in Saginaw County.
"I feel that, yes, I've made mistakes in my past," he said. "But I'm working to correct those things and to try at least to put in my small part and help others in my community and try to make things right. I hope the citizens of the city and the 95th District will give me that chance."
Haskins said he is running for state office out of a sense of duty to his hometown of Saginaw. His love for history, philosophy, religion and politics, Haskins said, led him to consider a career in political service.
"I've realized that my gift that I have is in government and politics," he said. "I've found my niche, my passion."
Haskins said he hopes voters will respect his willingness to admit his past and his desire to serve his community in the present.
"I want to be the candidate that says that Republicans don't just care about perfect, whitewashed, the perfect people," he said. "Those who have never been through struggles and trials.
"I want to be the Republican, the conservative candidate that says, you know, conservatism is for you. Because conservatism, real conservatism, true red-blooded American conservatism is about grit, hard work, loyalty and traditional values. Your family values. The three values that make up my stool of conservatism are faith, family and freedom. And I believe that many of the citizens of Saginaw share those same values."
One thing Michigan's Legislature needs to address, he said, is the burden on taxpayers due to the high recidivism rate among criminal offenders.
Haskins proposes laws to help train and certify inmates in prison and to lessen the stigma associated with being a convicted felon for those seeking employment after release.
"Once they see that mark on that application they will not even talk to you," he said.
Haskins said he realizes that, in a district that has long been held by a Democrat, any Republican has little chance of being elected as its newest state representative. But Haskins said he is proud of the man he has become and is excited for whatever comes next.
"You may not respect my policies, you may not respect my ideas, but you at least have to respect me as a person," Haskins said.