John Legend Launches ‘Free America’ Campaign to End Mass Incarceration


Singer John Legend is showing the world that he’s more than just an amazing singer and songwriter, he’s also a passionate activist who puts action behind his beliefs.

The Oscar-winning singer recently announced his new ‘Free America’ initiative that he launched in effort to help end mass incarceration.

Legend is set to visit a prison in Austin, Texas, on Thursday for a press conference with legislators to discuss the disheartening statistics behind Texas’ criminal-justice system.
“We have a serious problem with incarceration in this country,” Legend said in an interview. “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.”
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According to the Associated Press, Legend will also visit a California state prison and before partnering with Politico to host an event in Washington, D.C. where he will host a rally along with other artists and organizations who want to end mass incarceration.

“I’m just trying to create some more awareness to this issue and trying to make some real change legislatively,” he said. “And we’re not the only ones. There are senators that are looking at this, like Rand Paul and Cory Booker; there are other nonprofits that are looking at this, and I just wanted to add my voice to that.”

Legend also noted that a small victory for Free America was the passage of Proposition 47 in California last fall. The law changed the way crimes such as shoplifting, forgery, fraud, petty theft and possession of small amounts of drugs were categorized. Instead of being felonies, they are now considered misdemeanors.

“Once you have that tag of a felony on your name, it’s hard for you to do anything,” Legend said. “Getting those reduced to misdemeanors really impacted a lot of lives, and we hope to launch more initiatives like that around the country.”

Legend addressed the issue of mass incarceration during his Oscar acceptance speech last year, saying that the U.S. is “the most-incarcerated country in the world” withmore black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850.”