News and Commentary

Denzel Washington: Don’t ‘Blame The System’ For Black Incarceration, It ‘Starts At Home’

Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington says you “can’t blame the system” when it comes to black incarceration, but instead we should look at the home first, specifically the epidemic of fatherlessness in the African American community.

“If a young man doesn’t have a father figure, he’ll go find a father figure,” stated Washington.

Speaking to reporters at the New York premiere for his new film, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.,” Washington explained that the film centering around a Los Angeles criminal court system has not made him more cynical about the “prison-industrial complex.”

“It starts at the home,” said the Oscar winner. “It starts at home.”

“It starts with how you raise your children,” he expounded. “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,” Washington continued.

The actor got personal, discussing how he saw the fatherlessness epidemic affect those around him:

“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,” said the 62-year-old. “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,” he said. “But it’s about the formative years. You’re not born a criminal.”