Death Row Records founder Michael ‘Harry-O’ Harris has thanked Donald Trump for pardoning his jail sentence during the final days of his presidential term.
Harris was given a sentence of 25 years to life for drug trafficking and conspiracy to commit murder, and spent more than 30 years in a California jail. After a combined lobbying effort from former Death Row signee Snoop Dogg and multiple justice reform campaigners, Harris was freed.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Harris said he was grateful for the pardon, having sought similar treatment during the Obama Administration. He also expressed regret for his actions.
“I appreciate Donald Trump, his children, his son-in-law. Whyever he did it, he did it, when so many others wouldn’t do it,” he said.
“I’m telling you man, every day, even now, I think about my participation and it makes me sick to my stomach that I let them trick me to help kill my people. That’s killing me even today.”
During his time in prison, Harris reportedly revived the San Quentin prison newspaper and taught fellow prisoners how to start and manage businesses. A White House spokesperson described his prison record as “exemplary”.
Death Row was founded by Harris and Suge Knight in 1992 and is also known as the label behind Tupac and Dr. Dre’s early releases. It ended up filing for bankruptcy in 2006. While he was serving the first few years of his sentence, Harris was still operating the label behind the scenes.
“I should have probably spent every waking hour on my case. But I put that aside to focus on this company, because I felt it would be a platform to speak to people who couldn’t see things I was seeing from behind the walls,” he told DailyMailTV.
“I would talk to Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and the whole family, everybody that was signed to Death Row. I had an opportunity to speak with them about the vision and how their words could affect people.”
Harris now intends to campaign for justice reform and join the fight against poverty with his newly-established charity Community One World.
“‘The fact that I’m out of jail and I got a chance to help my people, and if I gotta go back to the past and talk about the past so that it’s never repeated on no level, I will do it until my dying days,” he said.
“The government is not going to be able to fix this country by itself. It’s going to need business, community leaders and people like me.”