When it comes to reforming the criminal justice system, one of hip-hop’s most ardent voices has been Jay-Z.
The 48-year-old MC’s label, Roc Nation, has now partnered with First Round Capital to invest $3 million into a “de-carceration” startup called Promise; an outlet that helps those imprisoned for low-level misdemeanors re-enter society with the tools needed to avoid recidivism.
The program will team with counties to create an “intake procedure,” according to TechCrunch, then creates a specific care plan for the participants. They will then be monitored and supported with reminders about drug testing or substance abuse treatments needed, as well as making sure they know when they have a court date.
“We are increasingly alarmed by the injustice in our criminal justice system. Money, time and lives are wasted with the current policies. It’s time for an innovative and progressive technology that offers sustainable solutions to tough problems,” a statement from Jay-Z reads. “Promise’s team, led by co-founder and CEO Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, is building an app that can help provide ‘liberty and justice for all’ to millions.”
A broken system
“People are going to jail because they look at a piece of paper and misread it, or are going to jail because they can’t afford a class because they’re instead paying child support,” Ellis-Lamkins explains told TechCrunch. “If we’re putting people in jail because they’re poor, brown or black, we’re spending money the wrong way.”
Under his real name, Shawn Carter, Jay-Z penned an op-ed for TIME magazine, pledging to upend the “exploitative” bail system and was also instrumental in producing TIME: The Kalief Browder Story” about a young inmate who committed suicide after being held for more than two years in New York’s Rikers Island jail facility.
“When black and brown people are over-policed and arrested and accused of crimes at higher rates than others, and then forced to pay for their freedom before they ever see trial, big bail companies prosper. This pre-incarceration conundrum is devastating to families,” he wrote in the 2017 essay.
He also wrote an op-ed in The New York Times, criticizing the criminal justice system and outlining how it has been unfair to fellow rapper Meek Mill.
— Complex Music (@ComplexMusic) November 17, 2017