JAY-Z and Roc Nation have announced a $3 million investment in Promise, an app that will combat mass incarceration.
According to the application’s website, it was created to “get people out of jail and provide ongoing support and supervision to help keep them out,” by Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins and Diana Frappier. The pair hopes the platform will serve as an alternative to locking up individuals who cannot afford bail or who mistakenly miss court dates. It will offer services that allow users to log upcoming court dates, counseling appointments, and drug tests. Regarding rehabilitation, Promise will provide programs with job training and information about housing.
JAY-Z has been vocal about how the jail system fails the poor and people of color. He wrote an op-ed last year on Father’s Day about the exploitative bail industry. Many individuals who have not been convicted of crimes are often held in jail because they cannot afford bail. The issue was also touched upon in JAY-Z-produced TIME: The Kalief Browder Story docuseries.
In an interview with TechCrunch, Ellis-Lamkins spoke about the small infractions that cause many people of color to be locked up. “People are going to jail because they look at a piece of paper and misread it, or are going to jail because they can’t afford a class because they’re instead paying child support. If we’re putting people in jail because they’re poor, brown or black, we’re spending money the wrong way.”
“We are increasingly alarmed by the injustice in our criminal justice system,” JAY-Z said in a statement confirming his involvement with the app. “Money, time and lives are wasted with the current policies. It’s time for an innovative and progressive technology that offers sustainable solutions to tough problems. Promise’s team, led by Phaedra, is building an app that can help provide ‘liberty and justice for all’ to millions.”
Promise will publicly debut at Y Combinator’s Demo Day on March 20, 2018.