Donald Trump has pardoned Michael “Harry-O” Harris’s prison sentence in his presidency’s twilight. Harris was instrumental in financing Death Row Records in its infancy and reportedly invested 1.5 million dollars. Additionally, he also ran a theater company that gave Denzel Washington his first break as an actor.
Harris was a jailed in 1988 on convictions of cocaine trafficking and attempted murder. His release was not on the schedule until June of 2028. However, thanks mainly to lobbying from, but not limited to, Snoop Dogg, Jared Kushner, and Ivanka Trump, Harris leaves the Lompoc Federal Correctional Institution today a free man.
The campaign to get Harris out started on December 26, 2020, when rapper Snoop Dogg asked for assistance from music producer Weldon Angelos. Angelos, who had just received a pardon from Trump that same month, was eager to assist.
He told The Daily Beast on Sunday, “Snoop brought this case to me, and I brought Alice Johnson on board to help it with me, and she brought it to the West Wing.” Johnson is a criminal justice reform advocate who had her life sentence pardoned by Trump in 2018.
“The president knows how much this case means to me,” she said to The Daily Beast. “In reviewing Michael Harris’ case, his story, and what he’s gone through, this is such an unfair case… He should have been home a decade ago.”
Harris’ attorney, Mr. Bruce Zucker, informed Dailymail.com that Harris’ sentence was “unduly harsh.” He continued by stating, “It occurred during the 1980s, at a time when then Presidents Ronald Regan and George H.W. Bush authorized legislation that imposed draconian penalties for drug offenses, which primarily and adversely affected young African American men living in the inner-city, such as Mr. Harris.”
Plus, Mr. Zucker shared that Harris spent 23 years in state prison on a first-degree attempted murder conviction until the alleged victim of his crime recanted. However, instead of being released, he was transferred to federal prison and started serving a 235-month sentence for drug crimes. And just last year, when there was an outbreak of the coronavirus at Lompoc prison, Harris’ legal team attempted to get him released because of an autoimmune disease, which put him at significant risk. The request, though, was denied.
In 2019, Harris told the press, “Over 30 years ago, I was part of the problem. However, over the years, I have repeatedly proven myself to be part of the solution. It’s about returning to society with my newfound vision, talents, and insights [and] giving back to the communities where my help is so desperately needed.”