John Legend Launches ‘Free America’ Campaign to Stop Mass Incarceration

john legend

John Legend has launched a multiyear campaign to put an end to mass incarceration.

According to The Huffington Post, the singer announced the campaign, titled FREE AMERICA, on Monday, April 13. John plans to visit and perform at a correctional facility on Thursday in Austin, Texas. While there, he will also take part in a press conference with various state legislators to discuss the criminal justice system in the state.

“We have a serious problem with incarceration in this country,” John said in an interview. “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.”

The singer will visit a California state prison, and co-host a criminal justice event with Politico in Washington, D.C., later on in the month. In the future, John plans to receive assistance for the campaign will include help from other artists — to be announced — and organizations committed to ending mass incarceration.

“I’m just trying to create some more awareness to this issue and trying to make some real change legislatively,” he said. “And we’re not the only ones. There are senators that are looking at this, like Rand Paul and Cory Booker, there are other nonprofits that are looking at this, and I just wanted to add my voice to that.”

John applauded the approval of Proposition 47 in California this past November, which calls for treating shoplifting, forgery, fraud, petty theft and possession of small amounts of drugs — including cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines — as misdemeanors instead of felonies in the state. “Once you have that tag of a felony on your name, it’s hard for you to do anything,” he said of the decision. “Getting those reduced to misdemeanors really impacted a lot of lives and we hope to launch more initiatives like that around the country.”

I applaud John for creating this campaign, and wish him and other supporters the best of luck in truly enacting change in this country. Don’t get me wrong. I believe it’s important to have dialogue about the issues and problems we have here. However, dialogue needs to lead to action in order to create real change. It’s great that John is taking steps to making things happen.

Image via Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *