Incarceration Nation: Meek Mill, Jay-Z and More #FightDifferent With Reform Alliance
Do you have a friend or family member in prison? What about on probation? People with money, influence, knowledge, and power are becoming a voice for those who cannot have one. They are taking a stand to stop the revolving door of prisons and lower terms to realistic expectations and lengths of time.
Meek Mill, Jay-Z, Van Jones and a number of others have founded Reform Alliance. Their mission “is to dramatically reduce the number of people who are unjustly under the control of the criminal justice system – starting with probation and parole.”
Currently there are 2.3M US citizens in prison, and 4.5M on probation or parole. Many of these people will end up back in prison because of a very minor, non-violent probation violation. Simple things like being late for a meeting with their PO or getting a traffic ticket turn into jail time. The punishment often will not fit the “crime.” Reform Alliance is out to help craft legislation that will keep completed prison terms from turning into a life of surveillance and more prison time.
The group has already introduced the Smart Probation and Parole Act into the Pennsylvania legislature (HB 1555). Its goal is to set limits and standards for terms based on the type of crime. It also outlines time credits for certain rehab activities like GED education and job training. Additionally, it aims to reduce the risk jail time for things like leaving the county without permission, which may need to be a daily activity for them to hold a job or raise a family. Part of the bill is to have these be retroactive for all of those in prison or on probation in PA.
The founders come from a variety of ethnic and professional backgrounds. Clara Wu Tsai has worked to promote equality of opportunity, and is also an owner of the New Jersey Nets. Daniel Loeb has worked in criminal justice reform and has fought for LGBT rights. And Robert Smith of Vista Equity Partners has been named one of the greatest living business minds by Forbes. The rest of the founders have also done great work and are committed to helping current and future prisoners and parolees. This is truly a force to be reckoned with.
You can stay up to date with Reform Alliance here, and by following them @Reform on Twitter and Instagram. We hope that that RA has great success, and that its effects reach all 50 states. #FightDifferent