Some of the biggest rapper stars were invited to meet with Obama at the White House Friday to talk about criminal justice reform and helping young men of color through Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative. According to a White House official Nicki Minaj, Chance the Rapper, Alicia Keys, Wale, J. Cole, DJ Khaled, and Ludacris were among the stars who sat down with Obama, Valerie Jarrett and some of his top advisers.
The Obama administration said the stars were singled out due to their work within communities to confront issues facing young people. Under the My Brother’s Keeper initiative, businesses, foundations and community groups coordinate investments to come up with or support programs that help keep young people out of the criminal justice system and improve their access to higher education.
Obama has focused heavily on the issue of criminal justice reform. Washington Post reported on March 30 that Obama commuted the sentences of 61 inmates, part of his ongoing effort to give relief to prisoners who were harshly sentenced in the nation’s war on drugs. Obama has granted clemency to 248 federal inmates. White House officials said that Obama will continue granting clemency to inmates who meet certain criteria set out by the Justice Department throughout his last year. The president has vowed to change how the criminal justice system treats nonviolent drug offenders.
Another 9,115 clemency petitions from prisoners are still pending.
“The power to grant pardons and commutations embodies the basic belief in our democracy that people deserve a second chance after having made a mistake in their lives that led to a conviction under our laws,” Obama wrote in a letter to the 61 inmates whose sentences he commuted. He said their punishment didn’t fit the crime.
On March 30, Obama also met for lunch with seven former inmates who received clemency from either him or former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
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