John Legend Wants You To Pay Attention to Prisons

April 13th 2015

Laura Donovan

Earlier this year, John Legend won an Oscar for his musical talents; now the singer plans to devote his time to ending mass incarceration.

On Monday, the artist announced his plans for FREE AMERICA, which he hopes will "create some more awareness to this issue and try to make some real change legislatively," according to the Associated Press.

"We have a serious problem with incarceration in this country," Legend told the news outlet. "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."

If you need primer, ATTN: interviewed former Edwina Rogers, the executive director for the Center for Prison Reform, on the subject of America's prison system. YouTube personality Hank Green also has an amazing break down of America's addiction to incarceration.

On Thursday, Legend will perform at an Austin correctional facility and participate in a criminal justice press conference led by state lawmakers. He'll also visit a California prison and hold a criminal justice event towards the end of April.

Legend pointed to presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) as well as Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) for doing their part to enact legislative change on the issue, "[W]e're not the only ones," Legend said. "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."

Last summer, Paul and Booker banded together to push for the REDEEM Act, which aims to keep young, nonviolent offenders out of prisons and prevent criminal records from permanently ruining employment opportunities.

"I will work with anyone, from any party, to make a difference for the people of New Jersey and this bipartisan legislation does just that," Booker said in a statement. "The REDEEM Act will ensure that our tax dollars are being used in smarter, more productive ways. It will also establish much-needed sensible reforms that keep kids out of the adult correctional system, protect their privacy so a youthful mistake can remain a youthful mistake, and help make it less likely that low-level adult offenders re-offend."

This isn't the first time that Legend has demonstrated his commitment to social justice. "We live in the most incarcerated country in the world," Legend said during his Academy Award acceptance speech. "There are more Black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850. When people march with our song, we want to tell you: we see you, we are with you, we love you, and march on."

After Legend spoke, Atlantic editor Matt Ford confirmed the situation is pretty dire for incarcerated black men:

During demonstrations in New York City over the police killing of Eric Garner last year, Legend and his wife Chrissy Teigen paid for food trucks in Lincoln Square to feed hungry protestors.

Here's President Obama's conversation with David Simon about the drug war and mass incarceration:



Here's an ATTN video on corporations that get rich off of private prisons:

How Corporations Are Getting Rich Off of Prisoners

How Corporations Are Getting Rich Off of PrisonersTo learn more about private prisons, click here: http://bit.ly/1GHqv0ULike ATTN: on Facebook for more videos like these.

Posted by ATTN: on Friday, March 20, 2015