Mill was released from prison about a month ago after being sentenced in November to a two- to four-year sentence for a probation violation — a decision criticized by his supporters as too severe. After serving five months, he was granted bail by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court while fighting his 2008 conviction on drug and gun charges.
Many pointed to the sentence as evidence of inequities in a criminal justice system where African-Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites.
After his release, the rapper said he recognized his experience as “a very important moment” and vowed to “shine a light” on how the criminal justice system treats minorities.
The president, who did not address Mill’s absence at Friday’s event, said his administration is pushing Congress to reform the prison system and reduce recidivism.
“For this effort, we are not just absolving prisoners of their central role in their own rehabilitation there is no substitute for personal accountability and there is no tolerance for those who take advantage of society’s generosity to prey upon the innocent,” Trump said.
“However, if we want more prisoners to take charge of their own lives then we should work to give them the tools to stand on their own two feet.”
The House is expected to vote on an administration-backed bill, called the First Step Act, addressing prisons as soon as next week. It provides $50 million of funding for prisons to implement job training and education in an effort to reduce recidivism.