John Legend and Common addressed the issue of mass incarceration during their acceptance speech at the Academy Awards few months ago, and Legend is sticking to his guns about eradicating it.
The Grammy and Oscar-winning musician/philanthropist is launching a multi-year campaign called FREE AMERICA. During the first stage of this initiative, Legend will perform at a correctional facility in Texas and speak at a press conference with state lawmakers on April 16.
At a later date, Legend will also visit a California state correctional institution and host an event in Washington D.C. Legend says FREE AMERICA has already been successful in helping to pass Proposition 47 in California, a law that lightens the sentences of crimes like forgery, fraud, petty theft and possession of small amounts of drugs, making them merely misdemeanors instead of felonies.
Speaking with the Huffington Post, Legend said, “We have a serious problem with incarceration in this country. 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.”
Other artists who will join Legend on his prison campaign will be announced at a later date.