Music Mogul Jason Flom On Reforming Criminal Justice & Resurrecting Rock ‘N Roll

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“Be kind to yourself, to other people, animals and the Earth.

Jason Flom 


Today I sit down with music industry titan Jason Flom for a deep dive into what currently ails our criminal justice system, and how to fix it.

The current CEO of LAVA Records, Jason’s much storied career features stints as Chairman and CEO at Atlantic Records, Virgin Records and Capitol Music Group. He is personally responsible for launching a litany of massive acts, including Kid Rock, Katy Perry, Lorde, and most recently Greta Van Fleet. The New Yorker described him as “one of the most successful record men of the past 20 years…known for his specialty in delivering ‘monsters.”

Jason’s accomplishments in the recording industry are extraordinary. But it’s his commitment to criminal justice justice reform that compelled this conversation. A founding board member of The Innocence Project as well as a board member of several advocacy organizations devoted to drug reform, prison education and ant-recidivism, Jason is a leading civilian expert on clemency with a talent for procuring exonerations for those wrongfully convicted.

A sought-after public speaker on such matters, Jason also hosts the Wrongful Conviction podcast, which features mesmerizing interviews with men and women who have spent decades in prison for crimes they did not commit. A means of exposing what ails our current justice system and prison industrial complex, his goal is to promote alternatives to mass incarceration and offer ideas on how to reduce the indecencies of wrongful convictions.

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Although I have followed Jason’s work for years, I had never met nor heard him speak until our paths crossed at The Nantucket Project a few months back. At the conclusion of his riveting, standing-room-only presentation alongside Amanda Knox — the exchange student who spent almost 4 years in an Italian prison following a murder conviction Jason played a part in having overturned — there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

I knew immediately I wanted to share his story and work with all of you. Today is that day.

This is a compelling exchange about what ails our criminal justice system and how to fix it.

It’s about systemic inequities and the recurring issue of false confessions — why so many innocent people plead guilty. We discuss the impact of DNA testing technology, overcoming prosecutorial malfeasance, and how unaffordable bail exacerbates social inequality. But mostly, this is a conversation about how misaligned incentives often produce unjust results and why Jason is so committed to giving a voice to those wrongfully incarcerated.

But I couldn’t let him go without a peek into his legendary music career. Stories from the frontlines, he recounts how he discovered Lorde, the current state of rock and roll, and his new venture, aptly titled, The Church of Rock and Roll.

My hope is that this conversation will provoke a deeper sense of empathy for those that suffer. Motivate you to investigate these issues more thoroughly. And inspire you to get involved in forging solutions.

Peace + Plants,

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SHOW NOTES

Check out Jason (and daughter Allison Flom’s) Children’s book: Lulu Is A Rhinoceros*

 Background, Context & Reference

Notable People Discussed

  • Joseph Flom: (Jason’s Dad) was an American lawyer and pioneer of mergers and acquisitions, specializing in representing companies in takeover battles.
  • Nadia Bolz-Weber: Lutheran minister, public theologian and two-time New York Times bestselling author
  • Victor Hugo: French poet, novelist, and dramatist of the Romantic movement, considered to be one of the greatest and best-known French writers. Outside of France, his most famous works are the novels Les Misérables*, 1862, and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame*, 1831
  • Amanda Knox: is an American woman who spent almost four years in an Italian prison following her conviction for the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher, a fellow exchange student who shared her apartment. In 2015, Knox was definitively acquitted by the Italian Supreme Court of Cassation
  • Geralddine Ferraro: was an American attorney and Democratic Party politician who served in the United States House of Representatives. In 1984, she was the first female vice presidential candidate representing a major American political party
  • Kalief Browder: accused of the theft of a backpack and Imprisoned on Rikers Island for three years with nearly two years of time spent in solitary confinement. Following his release from prison, Browder hung himself, supporters say as a result of the mental and physical abuse he sustained in prison
  • Jeffrey Mark Deskovic: wrongly convicted in 1990 at the age of seventeen of raping, beating, and strangling a 15-year-old high school classmate at Peekskill High School
  • Malcom Alexander: was arrested for the 1979 crime based on a deeply flawed, unreliable identification procedure
  • Keith Allan Harvard: narrowly escaped the death penalty, was convicted primarily on the testimony of two forensic dentists who said that Harward’s teeth matched marks left on the rape victim
  • David Keaton: the first man exonerated from death row in the modern era of the death penalty (1973-present)
  • Noura Jackson: was 18 years old when her mother was fatally stabbed 50 times in her East Memphis home in 2005. Jackson was 30 years old when she walked out of prison
  • Jens Söring: author, German citizen who in 1990 was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder in the United States. Söring denies having committed the crime
  • Michael Morton: was wrongfully convicted in 1987 in a Williamson County, Texas court of the 1986 murder of his wife Christine Morton
  • Wilbert Jones: arrested in 1972 for the brutal October 1971 rape of a female nurse; not 100% sure in her identification of Mr. Jones (arrested four months after the crime) her identification—alone—was enough to convict him at a brief trial

 Related Podcasts You Might Enjoy

Thanks to Jason Camiolo for production, audio engineering, interstitial music and show notes; Margo Lubin and Blake Curtis for video, editing and graphics. Portraits by Reece Robinson. Theme music by Ana Leimma.

*Disclosure: Books and products denoted with an asterisk are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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