By Jon Wiederhorn
In a new PSA endorsing prison reform, rapper Pusha T talks about a man named Norman Brown who spent years behind bars because of mandatory minimum laws. The rapper explains how Brown was charged with six counts of crack cocaine distribution, which is a non-violent offense. But since he had prior convictions, he was given life without parole at age 22.
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In the ad, Pusha T looks straight into the camera and reads Brown’s words about how he discovered teaching during his time in prison. “In 2010, I filed for clemency, but I’d lost hope in the system,” Pusha reads. “I’d been in for fifteen years and several motions had been denied. While in prison, my mother, my father, my brother and my grandmother all died. My daughter was also born.”
Brown received a second chance five years later when president Barack Obama commuted his sentence. Now, the former prisoner works with other inmates to help them acclimate to life when they get out of prison. He is also a youth counselor.
“When you let us rot away, society loses out on the gifts we have to give to the community and the world,” Pusha reads in at the end of the PSA, which was created with the Entertainment Consortium Collaborative Outreach Program and produced by the media group Fictionless for their MySentence campaign.
Pusha T was politically active in 2016. He was one of several artists who met with Obama to discuss the “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative and he stumped for Hillary Clinton during the election. He also discussed prison reform on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and was in a PSA supporting marijuana legalization in California.