Remy Ma wants to help end the private prison system

It’s been eighteen months since Remy Ma finished up her eight-year prison sentence, and while she’s excited to get back to work in the rapping industry, she also has a new crusade: ending the private prison system.

“Well, first let me say, people be like, you’re out of jail now — and by people, I mean idiots on social media who just type because they have fingers — why do you talk about prison so much? I’m almost positive I have some type of PTSD. I really went through a traumatic experience. Almost a decade of my life was consumed by the prison system,”she told The Fader in an interview.

Of the past 15 years [as a rapper], I’ve spent most of that time in prison as opposed to the ‘free world,’ so I don’t think I’m going to forget any of the things I went through, and I still have people that I have learned to care about that are there, and will probably end up having to spend the rest of their life there. So, if I can do anything or create any type of awareness — because honestly I know I didn’t even know.”

Specifically, she said, she was surprised by the experience of being a woman in prison:

Prior to me actually being there, I didn’t know any women that went to prison. So I’ve gotten to meet women that haven’t seen their children in a decade that live 40 minutes from them. Women who have husbands that they haven’t seen since they got incarcerated 20 years ago. Women whose friends have signed them off as a loss. And it was even more hurtful because I had such a strong support team in my husband who visited me every single day the first year, and then every year after that as much as he possibly could. And I had a visit every single day. So any day — in a prison of 900 to 1000 women — I would be down there with a visit and there would be like two or three other people. There was times where I was on a visit and I was the only person that had one. These are people that have husbands and mothers and sisters and children.

And it was so sad to me because I’ve been to visit floors at male facilities, and it is so crowded that they cut visits short so that the next people can come in. It’s so crazy. You’ll have girlfriends and baby mamas and pen pals and friends. People with babies and strollers and packages. And most of the visitors there were women. But when it came to the women it was like tumbleweeds blowing through the visiting floor. And I just didn’t understand, especially coming from a community where women are the heads of a lot of households. These households are held together by women. The backbones of these families are women because a lot of the men are either gone or in prison for that matter, so seeing these women thrown away like trash just bothered me. Even as I’m going through this ordeal, I can see my children or my husband — there are these women around me who have it way worse. And statistics show women get harsher sentences than men for the same crimes committed. And seeing it firsthand was just really sad.

Since her release, she has become a crusader against the private prison system, which she believes is inherently broken.

“There’s too much room for opinion in something that determines people’s lives,” she said. “One of the guys in the Bobby Shmurda GS9 case ended up with 117 years, and the headline said he was originally offered a 15 year plea deal that he rejected. Okay, I don’t know what his case is, I don’t know what he did, what was his charges, or whatever. The point that sticks out to me is if you offer me 15 years, how regardless of what happened at that trial do we end up at 117? How? That’s life. This is what I be talking about. That doesn’t make sense. If I commit a crime that warrants 15 years and you’re willing to give me 15 years, that’s it. There’s no way after trail I should end up with 117 years. And I’m very passionate about it. Not just because I lived it but because I’ve seen it. When you’re in there seven years you get to hear so many different stories, and it’s disgusting the way this country operates off the prison system. We have the most people incarcerated out of every country in the entire world. Countries that have five and ten times as many people as we do have less people incarcerated. Why is that?”

Check out more of Remy Ma’s interview here.