BY: ALEXIS FOSTER
High-profile figures across the entertainment industry gathered today at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City to launch REFORM Alliance, an organization centered on criminal justice reform. The alliance is dedicated to freeing one million people from incarceration through its commitment to criminal justice reform and eliminating outdated laws that foster injustice, starting with probation and parole.
Rapper Meek Mill first took to the stage, sharing his ongoing experience in the criminal justice system for over 10 years due to a controversial sentencing. His story is credited as the inspiration behind the organization. "Every time I started fulfilling my life [within] the music industry, every year or two, there was always something that brought me back to ground zero because of probation. I always wondered what happened to the people in situations worse than mine," Mill said. "I'm one of the lucky ones. I'm here to speak for the ones who don't have a voice. I didn't ask to be the face of reform, but I want to bridge gaps and make the world a better place, especially for my culture."He is now using his voice to speak for those who remain behind bars.
Mill and Philadelphia 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin are both co-chairmen of REFORM Alliance, partnering with six other business moguls in the sports and entertainment industry, including business mogul and rapper Jay-Z and Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
Activist and CNN host Van Jones has been named the CEO of REFORM. His long history working with criminal justice and his work with the #cut50 movement make him the right leader behind this movement, according to co-chairman Michael Rubin.
"We are going to fight [for justice] different," Jones stated. The alliance has already raised $50 million to pass reformed probation bills, spread media awareness, and build a strong bipartisan network for justice.
The co-founders took stride in outlining the alliance's goals for justice, but also made a point to shed light on the ongoing injustices impacting marginalized communities,
Both Meek Mill,a native of North Philadelphia, and Jay-Z, Brooklyn-bred Rapper and Hip-Hop Mogul, spoke on growing up in single-parent homes, neither a stranger to injustice or police brutality ï¼ a reality Kraft and Rubin admitted to being out of touch with before working with Meek on REFORM Alliance.
"Until everyone's free no one is free," Jay-Z reminded the audience.
Despite coming from different backgrounds the alliance is committed to freeing some of the over 2 million people incarcerated in America.
Listen to the stories of those who REFORM Alliance aims to help below.