Your favorite judge’s favorite judge sat down with I GOT QUESTIONS. Judge Greg Mathis chopped it up with me about all things activism, cancel culture, prison reform and tough love. Get into it.
MADAMENOIRE: Listen, you in my courtroom today. I got some rules for you. I got one rule.
Judge Greg Mathis: I’m taking orders today and I’m acting like my like my (unclear) as you said.
MN: Do not get on this conversation and call me no crackhead, okay?
Not unless you say something that might indicates that. Then, I’m going to ask.
You were trending last week for that, clip. After years, it seems that some newbies who are not familiar with your style of commentary and ruling came across your video, posted it on Twitter and had a day field with it. How does it feel to kind of revisit these viral moments?
Yeah, well, first of all, it was fulfilling to see the discussion going on. And I was reading and one of the things the things I didn’t notice, but I know to be the case is everybody has a family member on dope, period. Cousin, brother, sister, uncle, aunt. So,all these being special about the issue of drug addiction, hardcore drug addiction is something that should be listened to so they can practice and help their family member, for example. What people didn’t do, I assume, I guess I think 70,000 or so views or likes or whatever.
But no. The second post I put up on my Instagram the next day was the post of a woman who came back to our courtroom two years after I ordered her to rehab and I humiliated her, as the term she used is what changed her life. She hasn’t used one drug since she came in and I humiliated her. She said that’s the sole reason. So that video is posted as well. Indeed, I have dozens of videos like that because we do follow up. So, I have dozens that say, you are calling me attracting it on national television changed my life. So, I give less than a hoop about this professional class and upper-class folks who don’t know the reality of crack because they separated themselves from their own community and they don’t know that half their community is on track. So, I’m going to keep talking about it until they tell me everybody’s off track.
Oh, man judge, that’s some tough love right there. I mean, the political climate that term is pretty much worse.
I have no qualms about facing the allegation that my humiliation of folks to get them in the drug rehab is something that is politically incorrect or part of the cancel culture because I’m willing to defend all the way the effects I have on the people who come before me in the black community at large who were victimized the most by the crack coach, which we know now the CIA was complicit in dumping guns and crap into my community. Yes, I would be glad to talk about that. Anybodythat wants to challenge me on that. And lastly, the most important thing in my life, aside from my family, it’s the black community because I came up in the black community, the toughest housing projects in Detroit, single mother, four boys, and the overwhelming majority of the men I grew up with. My fears at some point in their life over majority, like seven out of ten. That’s where my commitment comes to trying to change lives. So, that cancel culture. That other politically incorrect, which for the most part has been created by white Liberals who don’t know anything about our community. I’m willing to take them all.
Okay, fair enough answer. You talked about the CIA dumping drugs into the black community. And so, I’m curious about what your thoughts are around prison reform.
First of all, I don’t think prisoners should go to prison without a plan of action as to how they’re going to better themselves. And that means and then you must have the resources to fulfill that plan of faction. And that means getting a skill or an education or preparation of some sort to come back into society as productive members, whereby about 70% go back to prison within a year because they do not have resources to take advantage of. And they haven’t been ordered to prepare themselves in prison, nor is there the resources to do so. In the past, there has been College favorable, but now that’s been cut, for the most part from all prisons in all States. So that’s what we must do to reform now. I just let them out. Reform them first. We don’t even have drug addiction treatment in most prisons. And two thirds of all, I’m sorry, 90% of all crime is drug related, whether it’s sold, whether it’s used, whether somehow, you’re caught or many other reasons.
Thank you for that information. We have Justice KatanjiBrown Jackson being the first African American woman to sit on the Supreme Court. How are you feeling about that?
Well, I feel she’s the most prepared we’ve ever had in our model. She works for perhaps the most competent and best Supreme Court in many ways. Justice Brennan, who mentored her, she went to the best or at least the most highly regarded schools by mainstream America. Harvard. I highly regard Morehouse and Spellman more. Nonetheless, the society’s most highly regarded schools, she attended them. She then went on for the most highly regarded status of a law school graduate, working as a Supreme Court Justice clerk and then appointed to the bench. That is second only to the Supreme Court. So, there’s no one being more prepared than in the modern era. So, whatever it is, affirmative action, no action, whatever the case, is she’s the most prepared?
Right. How do you feel about the insidious treatment she received during the confirmation, though?
That’s part and parcel of what we see is racism, neglect and abuse for all black people. She is no different than the other people because she has a couple of degrees and excellent training, though they like to let us know.
Right black excellence means nothing. So, you’ve had the longest running syndicated Court TV show. I grew up with you. I was so happy when you came about. This conversation is even better so thank you for that. But I want to segue. I want to segue into the work that you’re doing with American Gangster Trap Queens, right?
How did you get into being the executive producer of this show?
Well, I cocreated it because I knew what the inspirational journey did for me, and I know what it does for others who are also situated and locked in impoverished, in drug and crime infested neighborhoods. Inspiration from people who they identified with to follow. They really not listening to the professional class of black people, those African American descent who are in the ghettos of America. In fact, they resent black professionals because for the most part, they haven’t returned to their community to identify and to help them. And so, knowing that community and that’s been the focus of my work all my adult life, starting in Detroit as a political operative and later working in politics, is to work with that community that has been left behind, our community that has been left behind. So, it came from that the idea that we need help with our lady gangsters as well, or would be gangsters, we need to give them a cautionary tale with an inspirational envy. So that would do for them what it did for me. That was the idea behind it.
I was really fascinated with the stories that were being told, and I felt like the stories would be and that I could identify with the language that was being spoken. Because I come from a particular place as well. How close were you to selecting each story?
Well, three of the young ladies I’ve known for decades from in Detroit, one I grew up with starting at age 14, another I became to know and that is Tonisa from BMF at age 20. Right. So, I’ve known these ladies and the third lady named Brandy Davis, I’ve known her father for 40 years or 50 when I was a kid, a teenager, he was a big gangster. So, three of the ladies in Detroit I knew and suggested that we covered them.
I was curious about Kim Smetley and Candance’s story. Kim was doing the silicone injections, and Candace was dealing the prescription drugs, the pain management clinic. And there was this kind of recurring theme where they thought that they were helping people.
Many high-level drug dealers. They have convinced themselves that they are businessmen and that those 100 keys a week, or 10 in the case of BMF. Kilos being sold is just entrepreneurship because I never touch it. I never see it. I don’t even pick up the money. And so, this little side business, I have this hair salon, this other place. Well, what are you doing? I’m providing jobs in the community. They rationalize and are in denial in many instances so that they can live themselves. So that’s the case in a lot of criminals.
OK—and how integral was it to have Lil Kim do the narration?
Yeah. I think she brought a lot of credibility coming from the same place. People only pay attention to things they relate to.
We get to say and be and exist in the way that we are supposed to say and be and exist. So, that feels wonderful to me. And that’s something I definitely noticed. Watching a show like this is definitely for us. What else you got coming up?
Well, I’ve been discouraged to announce, it won’t be announced until Monday that I’ll be in.
OK. And I’d love to have you back and discuss that as well.
We completed the first season, and so it airs on June 10 on E Network.
OK. We’ll be looking out for that. And before I let you go, because I know you are a busy judge, give me five ways that we can help formerly incarcerated folks can combat recidivism.
We can prepare them for the workplace. That’s number one, you can have all the jobs you want, but if folks aren’t prepared to take it, it has no good. So, preparation for the workplace and it has to be some direct to work preparation because ex-offenders operate out of a mindset of immediate need. And they’ve kind of heard in the hood and they’ve seen all the training programs in the world, but no one gets a job of those training programs. All you’re getting is a $5,000 debt when you go into the for-profittraining program. There’s a shortage in the government training program and other company training programs so that you have to give that and there’s an opportunity. What we did at the Mathis Community Center in Detroit, because we had difficulty finding employees to prepare to be able to place them ex-offenders. We sponsor janitorial franchises for them. I matched funds from the county in Detroit, Wayne County to give 25 ex-offenders franchises that were being offered by a national chain.
We gave them money, gave them business training. And the majority of them now are still in business … years later. And they’re making sufficient amount to take care of their families. Livable wages. And that’s the other thing. We have to get paid livable wages. Our brothers and our sisters, but they’re so aware of oppression, and might not know how to put it in context, might not know even how to pronounce it correctly. But I promise you, they’re well aware because they have what we call game instinct.
So, they know they’ve seen this movie before working for little or no wages. No wages. So, they see this movie. And so, they’re not going to be abused and used in the workplace. Unfortunately, we have some other communities who haven’t learned that yet. Hopefully, they will soon go to them. So, we want more immigration to provide workers, non-skilled immigrants. And so, you know, they’re going to be unpaid or low paid and so once again we see that same mentality and our brothers and sisters in the hood. They recognize it. They know it and they’re just not going to be a victim of it.
OK. Thank you. Thank you so much for your insight, your knowledge and your entertainment.
Thank you. I should have started out with entertainment like I usually do before I turn serious.