Denzel Washington Weighs In On The Prison-Industrial Complex

A-List star Denzel Washington has expressed a viewpoint on mass incarceration of young men in which he doesn’t necessarily attribute it to the perceived unfairness of the U.S. justice system. Washington is currently promoting his new courtroom-based drama Roman J. Israel, Esq. which has received mixed reviews, when the so-called prison-industrial complex came up in media interviews.

According to the Oscar-winning actor, the breakdown of the family unit results in young males winding up behind bars, the New York Daily News reported.

“It starts at the 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.”

Among the numerous honors on Denzel Washington’s extensive resume, which includes 56 IMDb acting credits, include an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor for Glory (1990) and a Best Actor Oscar for Training Day (2002). The leading man is also the recipient of three Golden Globe Awards. His high-profile star turns on the big screen include portraying anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko in Cry Freedom (1987), the title role in Malcom X (1992), and as boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter in The Hurricane (1999). His 2010 film The Book of Eli is currently in heavy rotation on cable TV, as is 2007’s American Gangster. Washington’s big career break came as a cast member of the NBC TV medical drama St. Elsewhere (1982-1988).

In a previous interview, Denzel Washington, 62, acknowledged that he was into the street life while growing up in the New York City suburb of Mount Vernon, but he managed to avoid any serious encounters with the law unlike his peer group, the Daily Mail explained.

“I grew up with guys who did decades (in prison) and it had as much to do with their fathers not being in their lives as it did to do with any system…Now I was doing just as much as they were, but they went further…I just didn’t get caught, but they kept going down that road and then they were in the hands of the system. But it´s about the formative years. You’re not born a criminal.”

Denzel Washington’s reasoning for the incidence of young males becoming involved in crime and subsequently serving prison sentences seems to run counter to the prevailing conclusions of many activists who primarily blame the alleged inequities in the system rather than absent fathers for mass incarceration.

[Featured Image by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP Images]