Rappers Jay Z and Meek Mill help launch criminal justice reform organisation

Reuters
New York, NY, USA Published: Jan 24, 2019, 01:26 PM(IST)

File photo of Jay-Z. Photograph:( Twitter )

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The initial goals of the organization are to "highlight individual cases that embody the most egregious problems in the criminal justice system and discuss this unprecedented partnership that spans several industries."

Rappers Jay Z and Meek Mill have collaborated on a new criminal justice reform organization.

The pair joined Kraft Group CEO & New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Philadelphia 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin and other entrepreneurs for the announcement of Reform Alliance in New York on Wednesday (January 23). The founding partners have committed $50 million (USD) collectively to the organization.

The initial goals of the organization are to "highlight individual cases that embody the most egregious problems in the criminal justice system and discuss this unprecedented partnership that spans several industries."

Rubin said the initial focus is going to be on the four and a half million people that are on probation and parole.

"This is two-thirds of the population in the criminal justice system and yet it's been the area that's been the least focused on. And it's also what keeps sending people back to prison and jail," he said. Rubin hopes to free 1 million people from the system in the next five years.

Meek Mill, whose legal name is Robert Williams, was sentenced in November 2018 to two-four years in state prison for probation violations stemming from his 2008 conviction.

His case, which became a cause for recording artists, athletes and celebrities, was seen by criminal justice reform advocates as emblematic of a legal system they say treats minorities unjustly and hands out too harsh of punishments.

Jay-Z said, "We want to be very clear, you know if someone commits a crime they should go to jail. But these things are just disproportionate and the whole world knows that, right. And a lot of these issues are in place now because they were run on - they're like political issues. People run on this and got elected to office, and there's no disrespect, I don't want anyone to feel defensive about what I'm saying. I'm just saying honest truth. And the people that are here today and the politicians that are here today know it's the truth, that's why they're here. And it's a humane issue."

The founders say with determination, capital funding and a platform they plan to make a big impact.

Journalist Van Jones has been named CEO of the organization.

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