John Legend wants to put an end to mass incarceration, and he’s doing something about it. The R&B singer has launched FREE AMERICA, which is a multiyear campaign against mass incarceration. Legend will visit and perform at a correctional facility in Austin (TX) on April 16th, for which he will participate in a press conference with state legislators to discuss the Texas criminal justice system. The singer will also visit a California state prison, and he will host a criminal justice event with Politico in Washington, D.C. in April as well.
“We have a serious problem with incarceration in this country. It’s destroying families, it’s destroying communities and we are the most incarcerated country in the world,” Legend stated. He believes this country has criminalized those who suffer from addiction and poverty. Instead of offering these people the services they need, this country throws them in jail. “We as a society made some choices politically and legislatively to deal with poverty and mental illness in a certain way that usually involves using incarceration,” Legend said. The singer boldly stated that it is unacceptable that the United States has more jails than colleges and universities.
Other artists will be involved in the FREE AMERICA campaign as well, and those artists will be announced at a later date. The singer stated that other organizations will join the campaign, too. “I’m just trying to create some more awareness to this issue and trying to make some real change legislatively,” Legend said. He continued, “We are not the only ones. There are senators that are looking at this like Rand Paul and Cory Booker. There are other nonprofit organizations that are looking at this, and I just wanted to add my voice to that.” During his acceptance speech at the Academy Awards this year, (Legend and Common’s “Glory” won for Best Original Song), the R&B singer also addressed mass incarceration. “There are more black men under correctional control today than there were under slavery in 1850,” Legend stated.
While there is still a lot of work to be done, approving Proposition 47 in California was a huge step in the right direction for FREE AMERICA. Proposition 47 will treat forgery, shoplifting, fraud, petty theft, and possession of small amounts of drugs (including heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine) as misdemeanors instead of felonies. Legend stated that having a felony in this country is very damaging, and it makes it hard to get a job or do anything. By reducing these charges to misdemeanors, people will be given the opportunity to get their lives back on track. Legend hopes to launch more initiatives in the United States in the near future.
FDRMX Eyes: Blame it on Sean is a rock band from the suburbs of Virginia. The band has released an experimental video for their song, “Core.”