January 20, 2021, Death Row Records co-founder Michael “Harry-O” Harris was elated when he heard the news that President Trump commuted his prison sentence. He walked out of the Federal Correctional Institution Lompoc today as a free man. With a lot of help from his friend, multi-platinum artist, actor, philanthropist and entertainment icon Snoop Dogg, who brought the case to criminal justice reform advocate Alice Johnson, who sentence was commuted by Trump when Kim Kardashian advocated for her release in 2018. Johnson took Harris’ case to Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner and the rest is history. Also involved in his clemency, was activist Weldon Angelos, a former music producer and one-time federal prisoner who was pardoned by Trump last month.
Harris was the co-founder of Death Row Records along with Suge Knight. The record company’s music legends included Dr. Dre, Tupac Shakur and Snoop Dogg to name a few. He has spent nearly three decades behind bars on attempted murder and cocaine trafficking-related charges with a sentence that was supposed to last until 2028.
Michael Harris’s lawyer Bruce Zucker said in a statement, “I have represented Michael Harris since 2015. In November 1990, Mr. Harris was sentenced to 235 months in federal prison for drug related activity, which was ordered to run consecutive to a lengthy California sentence for first-degree attempted murder. But, on October 11, 2011, the California parole board released Mr. Harris from his state sentence because the alleged victim of his crime recanted and because of his pristine prison record and service to the community. He was then transferred to federal prison to begin serving his 235-month sentence”.
Zucker continued saying, “Mr. Harris’ federal prison sentence for involvement with drugs was unduly harsh. It occurred during the 1980s, at a time when then Presidents Ronald Reagan 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. I believe Mr. Harris should have been released from prison years ago, like other similarly situated folks were. This commutation is more than equitable, and it is long overdue.”
Upon his release from prison, Harris was greeted by his family and friends.