Sharpton Blames Racism For Black Imprisonment, Denzel Says Not So Fast

As Al Sharpton is set to meet with rapper Meek Mill to discuss shortening his prison sentence in what he feels was a result of racism, veteran actor Denzel Washington spoke out to the black community with a completely different view.

30-year-old rapper, Meek Mill recently was handed a two-to-four-year prison sentence from a Philadelphia judge due to a parole violation. Al Sharpton is using the case of the celebrity rapper to blame the system and racism for why Mill and a mass amount of young black men are incarcerated under the terms that Sharpton feels is harsh punishment.

As a background to Mill’s incarceration, when he was 18, he was arrested for illegal possession of a gun.  Recently, he had run-ins with the law after getting into a fight in St. Louis and popping a wheelie on a dirt bike in New York, according to New York Daily News. This prompted his background to be taken into consideration while facing a judge, who then sentenced Mill to 2 to 4 years for violating his parole. The sentencing was handed down despite Mill’s probation officer and prosecutors recommending that he be spared prison time.

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Rev. Al Sharpton said he’s heading to a Pennsylvania to meet with the rapper in prison and will try to get a new hearing and a new judge in an attempt to lessen Mill’s sentence. Sharpton issued the following statement prior to his visit:

I think this is about an injustice that is representative of many young men of color that face an abuse of a probation or parole system…This has happened to countless young black men, and Meek Mill represents that, and he can be an example of how we correct that…If they can do this to someone with the profile of a Meek Mill, imagine what they’re doing every day.”

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In an interesting twist, Hollywood star Denzel Washington issued a strikingly different take on the system and the black community according to another report by New York Daily News.

While discussing his latest movie Roman J. Israel, Esq. with reporters, Washington said we “can’t blame the system” and it’s “how you raise your children” that ultimately determines their fate.  The actor believes “it’s about the formative years. You’re not born a criminal.”

Denzel Washington correlated the compelling number of fatherless homes to the mass amount of black men in prison.

It starts at the home. It starts at home. It starts with how you raise your children. If a young man doesn’t have a father figure, he’ll go find a father figure..So you know I can’t blame the system. It’s unfortunate that we make such easy work for them.”

According to the Census Bureau, just over 12% of the population is black, yet account for a large majority of the prison population as shown in the chart below.

Chart Courtesy of Prison Policy Initiative

Statements made by Al Sharpton and Denzel Washington are sure to intensify the debate on why blacks represent a large percentage of the prison population in America if you compare it to general population.

What do you think is the cause for it? Is it a racism issue, a nurture issue or something else? Feel free to comment your response below!

Feature Photo: Sony Pictures, Google Search , Dagger News Compilation

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