John Legend announced the launch of FREE AMERICA, a multi-year campaign to amplify the growing movement to end mass incarceration. As part of FREE AMERICA, John Legend is embarking on a listening and learning tour across the country visiting with incarcerated individuals, law enforcement, legislators, and experts who’ve been thinking critically about America’s prison problem. Legend’s initiative, which will expand to include other artists and high-profile individuals committed to justice reform, will also seek to support and collaborate with the many pre-existing national and statewide coalitions and organizations committed to this work.
John Legend will launch his first official visit of the campaign in Austin, Texas on Thursday, April 16th, where he will be visiting and performing at a correctional facility. Following the visit to the jail, John Legend will be participating in a press conference with several state legislators and advocacy organizations to discuss how to improve the criminal justice system in the state of Texas.
“I am launching FREE AMERICA today because it is unacceptable that there are more jails in our country than colleges and universities, that black women and girls are the fastest growing population in prison, that we are the most incarcerated nation in the world.” Legend further noted, “I don’t want to live in a nation that criminalizes addiction and poverty. Mass incarceration doesn’t make us safer, it makes us all more vulnerable. It destroys communities, wastes precious resources, separates families, and ruins lives.”
Other tour stops during the month of April include a performance at a California state prison, speaking at the Survivors Speaks Conference, the largest gathering of victims in California, on April 20th and co-hosting a criminal justice event with POLITICO the night before the White House Correspondence Dinner on April 24th.