John Legend, the recording artist and philanthropist writes about America’s obsession with incarceration. And why it must stop.
The right to vote is central to any movement for social change.
In the 1960’s, voter registration drives were a central strategy to the civil rights movement and today voting continues to play a pivotal role in our democracy.
As someone who cares deeply about education, I felt compelled to make this video increase voter participation and raise awareness of the need to stop the growing school-to-prison pipeline.
In the last three decades, prison spending has grown exponentially faster than spending on education. In fact, in California alone, we have built 22 prisons and only 1 UC University since 1980.
Today, we incarcerate five times more prisoners than 1980 and prison spending has increased by 1500 percent. The devastating impact of this dramatic growth has not been felt evenly – African Americans are seven times more likely than whites to be incarcerated and Latinos are twice as likely.
America’s incarceration addiction has torn apart communities, disenfranchised millions of people — most for nonviolent offenses — and denied countless individuals an opportunity to gain employment, housing and even some of their most basic human rights. And it hasn’t made us any safer — more that 6 out of 10 prisoners return to prison after release while communities struggle with run down schools and inadequate resources.
Change in our justice system is long overdue. That’s why I’m advocating so strongly for the passage of Proposition 47, a groundbreaking sentencing reform initiative in California that will begin to reverse decades of over-incarceration and reallocate prison spending to schools, prevention and treatment.