Good for Kanye, meeting with Trump about prison and criminal justice reform

Kayne and Kim are using their celebrity to argue for meaningful prison and criminal justice reform

Kanye West is having lunch with President Trump today and they plan to discuss "manufacturing resurgence in America, prison reform, how to prevent gang violence and what can be done to reduce violence in Chicago," according to a White House statement. Kim Kardashian West, his wife, has also previously met with Trump to talk about prison and criminal justice reform. Their particular area of interest has been in arguing for clemency for prisoners being held on non-violent drug charges.

The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world at 655 inmates per every 100,000 population. To put this into perspective, Cuba (a Communist dictatorship) is number 6 on the list, the Russian Federation is number 16, and Saudi Arabia is number 72.

Looking at just U.S. federal inmate statistics:

  • 93% are male

  • 58% are white, 38% are black - but note that the percentage of the overall population that is white is 64% and black is 13%

  • 46% of the offenses for which inmates are jailed are drug-related. The next highest is "weapons, explosives, arson" at 18%. Homicide, violent crimes and robbery, and sex crimes all together make up 17% of offenses.

The point that Kanye and Kim West are trying to make in their efforts is that the tough sentences on drug-related crimes drive the higher incarceration rate, particularly for black citizens. In addition, it can be very hard for convicted criminals to re-enter society (e.g. getting a good job, redeeming their reputation, etc...) so a conviction can very easily condemn someone to a life of crime or of incarceration.

The fact that the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world is probably a clue that something is not right about how our criminal justice system operates, particularly since nearly half of inmates are in prison on drug charges. Good for Kanye and Kim in highlighting this issue and seeking meaningful reform.

(Image: Inmate showers in Old Central Prison (State Prison), Raleigh, NC, in cell block, no date (c.1950-1960s), by State Archives of North Carolina -, No restrictions, )

No. 1-2

Far too many things in this country, which are or can be considered victim-less, are considered crimes. You really should need proof that someone caused harm before sending them to prison.


Stats on this subject are decieving:

  1. Drug offenses come in 3rd place (after property and violent crime) in state custody.

The reason for 46% of FEDERAL inmates (that's who USBOP has data for) being drug offenders, is that the enforcement of laws against violent & property crime falls to STATE officials... So yes, since there really aren't that many ways to get arrested by the feds for property, sex, and violent offenses... There aren't going to be that many of those criminals in FEDERAL prison.

  1. Racial makeup of the prison population is irrelevant, since the way you get put in prison is individual choices, not your race. Individuals commit crimes, and what their skin looks like has no bearing on whether they should be in prison or not...

  2. The US imprisons more people... Got it... We also (a) have a far more procedural/proper justice system than the overwhelming majority of the world (notably the 3rd world - eg, as opposed to criminals just disappearing, etc), and (b) do not have the mental disease that's afflicted Europe in terms of feeling sorry for offenders...