When I saw Kalief Browder’s 2013 television interview, I wanted to meet him. He was 20 and had just come home from a more-than-thousand-day stay on Rikers. Like a lot of people I know who are disappeared by the system, Kalief seemed like the same 16-year-old he was when he went in, but he had an inner strength, an ability to stand up for himself that I deeply admired. He explained why he wouldn’t cop a plea for a crime he hadn’t committed, even if it meant facing 15 years in prison. Offered immediate release from Rikers’s notoriously grimy RNDC, after more than ten months spent in the Bing (solitary confinement), Kalief turned the prosecutor down. He didn’t think it was right to admit to something he’d never done. This weekend we learned that Kalief, who reportedly had no mental illness when he was arrested, killed himself.
When Common and I wrote the song “Glory” for the stunning new film Selma, we drew inspiration from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his contemporaries who strived and sacrificed to achieve racial equality in the face of seemingly hopeless odds. As I watched the final version of Selma, I did so with the backdrop of the streets of many of our major cities filled with protesters, crying out for justice after yet another unarmed black person’s life was taken by the police with impunity. After the events of the past few weeks, in Ferguson, Mo.; Staten Island; Phoenix; and Cleveland, things feel eerily the same. While it is important to recognize and acknowledge racial progress through the years, it is also clear that we are far from King’s dream of equality and justice for all.
John Legend, the nine-time Grammy Award winner, and Oscar winner, has taken up the cause of criminal and juvenile justice reform. He is speaking out against mass incarceration and overly harsh sentences for adults and young people.
“We have a serious problem with incarceration in this country,” Legend has said. “It’s destroying families, it’s destroying communities and we’re the most incarcerated country in the world.”
Singer/songwriter John Legend joined law enforcement and elected officials as special guest at California’s largest event for crime survivors this week in Sacramento.
Grammy-winning singer John Legend and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsomheadline a crime victims conference in Sacramento this week promoting new criminal justice policies in California.
Singer John Legend called for less punishment for crime and more crime prevention in his address at the “Survivors Speak” conference on Monday. Legend spoke about the need to invest in education and a system that gives kids opportunities, instead of turning them over to the police.
Singer John Legend visited the Sacramento Convention Center on Monday to advocate for reforming the justice system.Also addressed the audience at the conference “Survivors Speak.”
John Legend visited Travis County Correctional facility on Thursday, April 16, 2015, to promote his ‘Free America’ campaign.
John Legend visited a Texas prison on Thursday, April 16, 2015, to promote his ‘Free America’ campaign. The ‘All of Me’ star, performed a few songs at the Travis County Correctional Complex, following a press conference at the Senate chamber. During the conference, the 36-year-old star urged the state government to consider revamping their current correction system….