Meek Mill, Jay-Z, and more start criminal justice reform foundation

Jay-Z and Meek Mill pledge $50m to free prisoners
Jay-Z and Meek Mill launch criminal justice reform organization to reduce number of people in prison
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25 January, 2019

The CEO for REFORM is journalist Van Jones, and the founders have collectively pledged $50 million to its launch. "But these things are just disproportionate and the whole world knows it", he said.

"I've never been to a jail before, and going there and seeing him I didn't sleep the rest of the night", Kraft said.

"I'm here to speak for all the people who don't have a voice", Meek Mill, whose full name is Robert Rihmeek Williams, said at the event.

In 2017, Mill was sentenced to serve two to four years in state prison for a minor probation violation after a decade-old gun and drug possession conviction.

According to the Reform Alliance, 4.5 million people - like Mill - are now on parole or probation for unreasonable terms.

The hip-hop superstars appeared on stage in NY on Wednesday (Jan. 23), alongside New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Philadelphia 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin, and political activist Van Jones, to announce the launch of the REFORM Alliance.

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Black people are incarcerated at more than five times the rate of white people in the United States, according to the NAACP civil rights organization.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, who attended the event, said he was a supporter of criminal justice reforms that are "fair, help our system work better and smarter, and save crucial taxpayer dollars while balancing public safety and victim concerns". "We're all prisoners to this, because until everyone is free no one is free". This sentence for technical violations sparked outrage among criminal justice reform advocates and invigorated a national debate on probation laws and mass incarceration.

Meek Mill explained the importance and need for prison reform in a statement, writing, "Creating the REFORM Alliance is one of the most important things I've ever done in my life". "But I think the inspiration is going to be as important as the legislation, and I think you're going to see people learning about this and going out there wanting to fix it".

This new initiative comes a few months after the rapper was released after spending five months behind bars for violating an nearly decade-old probation.

About 2.2 million people in the USA are incarcerated, and about 4.5 million are on probation or parole, according to government statistics. 'You grow up around murder on a daily basis, you grow up in drug-infested neighborhoods on a daily basis'. The organizations have set a goal of freeing at least one million people trapped in that system.

"Rather than giving people a springboard to success, probation and parole is a trapdoor to failure", Jones says. Other founding board members include New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Brooklyn Nets co-owner Clara Wu Tsai.


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