John Legend Launches 'FREE AMERICA': Campaign to Help end Mass Incarceration
Black Enterprise Magazine July/August 2018 Issue

According to recent reports, John Legend has launched his campaign ‘FREE AMERICA’ to end mass incarceration. The agenda includes plans for Legend to kick off the campaign by performing at a correctional facility in Austin, Texas, and then attending a press conference with state legislators to discuss the state’s criminal justice structure. Later this month, Legend is set to to co-host a criminal justice event with Politico in Washington, D.C. and will also visit a California state prison.

[Related: Civil Rights Today: 15 Empowering Songs That Promote Freedom and Justice]

The campaign will be adding other organizations and artists, which will be announced in coming weeks. FREE AMERICA’s first early triumph was Proposition 47’s approval last November in California. The Proposition calls for acts including shoplifting, forgery, fraud, petty theft, and possession of small amounts of drugs to be treated as misdemeanors.

The Academy Award-winning singer told the Associated Press, “We have a serious problem with incarceration in this country.  It’s destroying families, it’s destroying communities and we’re the most incarcerated country in the world, and when you look deeper and look at the reasons we got to this place, we as a society made some choices politically and legislatively, culturally to deal with poverty, deal with mental illness in a certain way and that way usually involves using incarceration.”

He also stated, “Once you have that tag of a felony on your name, it’s hard for you to do anything. Getting those reduced to misdemeanors really impacted a lot of lives and we hope to launch more initiatives like that around the country.”

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