All posts by Kehaulani Ahu
You go into juvenile hall and you learn stuff, stuff that a nine-year-old isn’t supposed to learn. You learn how to manipulate. You really learn how to lie. You really learn all these bad things that later come in handy when you hit the joint and you’re exposed to older inmates.
It’s incredibly difficult to parent from a prison payphone. Most of the women who are incarcerated are mothers, and most of them did not have the means to afford the phone calls…They had to literally decide between buying feminine hygiene products and making a phone call home to their children. Most of the women who are incarcerated in prisons across this country are mothers, and most of them were the primary caretakers of their children.
John Legend is on a mission to transform America’s criminal justice system. Through his Free America campaign, he’s encouraging rehabilitation and healing in our prisons, jails and detention centers — and giving hope to those who want to create a better life after serving their time. With a spoken-word prelude from James Cavitt, an inmate at San Quentin State Prison, Legend treats us to his version of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.” “Won’t you help to sing these songs of freedom?”
Adam Foss doesn’t look like your average prosecutor. He wears his hair in long dreadlocks that flow down to his ankles, and beaded bracelets ornate his wrists. He spent eight years as an assistant district attorney in Boston, but rather than focusing on high conviction rates or projecting a “tough on crime” attitude, he has been far more interested in alternatives to incarceration, and on keeping juvenile offenders out of prison. Foss’s efforts might have ended there, making tweaks on the fringes of a flawed system, but in 2015, he met singer John Legend, who is no stranger to activism. Now the two want to change the way prosecutors nationwide think about their job, and to recruit them into the war against mass incarceration.
I was fortunate to grow up in a union household. I know how important they are for families and communities. I know the power unions have to organize politically on behalf of important causes. That’s why it’s so significant that the AFL-CIO, one of the largest unions in the country, has partnered with my organization #FREEAMERICA to end the harmful, immoral, and unjust cycle of mass incarceration in the United States.