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Denzel refuses to 'blame'

Denzel Washington refuses to lay any blame for the mass incarceration of black men and women in America on "the system".

The Oscar-winning actor is the star of new Nightcrawler director Dan Gilroy's film Roman J. Israel, Esq., in which he plays an idealistic lawyer whose beliefs are tested when he joins a new law firm.

According to editors at the New York Daily News, when asked about the justice system at the film's premiere the veteran actor refused to blame the disparity in incarceration rates for African-American males on a bankrupt justice system.

"It starts at the home," the 62-year-old replied when asked for his thoughts about the prison-industrial complex - a term that describes the attribution of the rapid expansion of the US inmate population to the political influence of private prison companies and businesses that supply goods and services to government prison agencies for profit. "It starts at home," he added.

When pushed to expand on his answer, the father-of-four explained: "It starts with how you raise your children. 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," he continued. "It's unfortunate that we make such easy work for them."

His comments are out of step with celebrities such as JAY-Z, rapper and actor Common, and director Ava DuVernay, whose landmark documentary 13th explores the origins of mass incarceration of African-Americans and how much private companies are profiting from it.

JAY-Z also recently penned an opinion article in the New York Times about criminal justice reform in the U.S. in support of fellow rapper Meek Mill, who was imprisoned for probation violation stemming from a 2008 drug and gun bust.

"The specifics of Meek's case inspired me to write this," he wrote. "But it's time we highlight the random ways people trapped in the criminal justice system are punished every day. The system treats them as a danger to society, consistently monitors and follows them for any minor infraction - with the goal of putting them back in prison..."

"Probation is a trap and we must fight for Meek and everyone else unjustly sent to prison," he added.

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