John Legend in South Africa

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Oscar-winning singer John Legend just announced FREE AMERICA, a campaign meant to end mass incarceration.

According to the Associated Press, it will be a multiyear campaign that will feature different programs throughout the years. To kick things off, he will visit a California prison and host a “criminal justice event” in Washington, D.C. this month. Legend will also be in Texas for a conference on the state’s justice system as well.

“We have a serious problem with incarceration in this country,” Legend 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.”

“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.”

“Once you have that tag of a felony on your name, it’s hard for you to do anything,” Legend said. “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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