The ever-philanthropic John Legend is putting his celebrity to good use yet again. The Grammy and Oscar award-winning singer has launched a campaign to end mass incarceration. Dubbed FREE AMERICA, the multi-year initiative will find Legend performing at a correctional facility in Texas and participating in a press conference with state legislators this week (Apr. 16).
“We have a serious problem with incarceration in this country,” Legend told the Huffington Post. “It’s destroying families, it’s destroying communities and we’re the most incarcerated country in the world, and when you look deeper and look at the reasons we got to this place, we as a society made some choices politically and legislatively, culturally to deal with poverty, deal with mental illness in a certain way and that way usually involves using incarceration.”
Legend is also slated to visit a California state prison, as well as co-host a criminal justice event in Washington, D.C. According to the singer, FREE AMERICA has seen early success with the passing of Proposition 47 in California, which lessens sentences for crimes such as forgery, fraud, petty theft and possession of small amounts of drugs by classifying them as misdemeanors instead of felonies.
Other artists are slated to join John Legend in the FREE AMERICA campaign, and will be announced at a later date.