Grammy Award-winner John Legend announced this week he’s starting a multi-year campaign to end mass incarceration.
“We have a serious problem with incarceration in this country,” he told Associated Press. “It’s destroying families, it’s destroying communities, and we’re the most incarcerated country in the world.”
On Monday, Legend announced the formation of #FreeAmerica — a campaign he hopes will “change the national conversation about our country’s misguided policies and transform America’s criminal justice system.”
As part of this week’s launch, Legend visited a prison in Austin, Texas, yesterday and then spoke to state legislators at the Texas Capitol. “They say everything is bigger in Texas,” he told lawmakers. “Unfortunately, that extends to the state’s correctional system, as well. Texas puts too many people behind bars. And taxpayers, families and communities are paying a heavy price for those policies.”
In his speech at the Capitol, Legend praised legislators for introducing bills to reduce penalties for lesser crimes like truancy. Currently in Texas, students can face up to a Class C misdemeanor for multiple unexcused absences from school.
“We as a society have made some choices politically and legislatively, culturally to deal with poverty, deal with mental illness in a certain way, and that way involves using incarceration.”
“Once you have that tag of a felony on your name, it’s hard for you to do anything,” he said.
According to the campaign, incarceration rates in the U.S. have increased “700% in the past 40 years, despite crime rates falling dramatically.” And today, 1 in 4 American adults (65 million people) have a criminal record.
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Photo: Let’s Free America