Meek Mill, Jay-Z announce start of criminal justice reform effort

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Wednesday, January 23, 2019
Meek Mill, Jay-Z announce start of criminal justice reform effort
Meek Mill, Jay-Z announce start of criminal justice reform effort. Sharrie Williams reports during Action News at 6 p.m. on January 23, 2019.

NEW YORK (WPVI) -- Performers Jay-Z and Meek Mill, along with other big names in sports, entertainment and business, are joining forces to bring about change in the criminal justice system.

They appeared on stage in New York on Wednesday to announce the launch of "Reform."

The goal is to shine a light on social and racial inequalities within the system.

Meek Mill, who was released from prison last April after spending five months behind bars after a controversial sentence for a probation violation, has been outspoken about his desire to see change.

He says the current system ensnares young black people and aims to keep them incarcerated instead of opting to rehabilitate them.

"Every time I started to further my life with the music industry, traveling the world and traveling worldwide - and actually making money to be able to provide for my family and take them out of that ruthless environment - every year there was something that brought me back to ground zero, and it was probation. I always wondered what happened to the people that was in situations worse than mine," Mill said.

Also among those involved are Philadelphia 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

The Reform Alliance will be led by Van Jones, a CNN host and activist who at one point served as an adviser to former President Barack Obama.

Rubin said the group is dedicating $50 million to the effort.

About 2.2 million people in the U.S. are incarcerated, and about 4.5 million are on probation or parole, according to government statistics.

"If you thought my case was unfair, there are millions of others dealing with worse situations and caught up in the system without committing crimes," said Mill, who will remain on probation until 2023. "With this alliance, we want to change outdated laws, give people hope and reform a system that's stacked against us."

Jones said the Reform Alliance is taking aim at the cycle of probation and parole violations that leads people back to prison.

"That is the revolving door that keeps people back in and back in and back in," Jones said. "We're going to dismantle that revolving door."

Patriots owner Robert Kraft said the current system "is not good for America."

"We can make America better if we really cure this problem," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report


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