Jay-Z, Meek Mill Launch Criminal Justice Reform Alliance To Challenge Illogical Laws

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Written by Dana Sanchez

Hip-hop artist Meek Mill, 31, gained astronomical fame after being sentenced to up-to-four years in prison for doing wheelies on a dirt bike — an act that the U.S. criminal justice system deemed a violation of his terms of parole.

Now Mill has joined with entrepreneur-investor Jay-Z, Michael Rubin, co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers, and other leaders in sports, entertainment and business to create the Reform Alliance, a new initiative dedicated to changing the “illogical laws that make no sense.”

Activist, author and CNN host Van Jones will serve as the organization’s CEO, according to a press release.

Nonsensical laws rule the lives of about 4.5 million Americans currently on parole or probation, Rolling Stone reported.


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The goal of Reform Alliance is to transform the American justice system, drastically reduce the number of people under control of the criminal justice system and change laws and public opinion.

In addition to Mill, Jay-Z and Rubin, others involved in creating and funding Reform Alliance include Vista Equity Partners founder, chairman and CEO Robert F. Smith; Kraft Group CEO and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft; Brooklyn Nets co-owner and philanthropic investor Clara Wu Tsai; Third Point LLC CEO and founder Daniel S. Loeb; and Galaxy Digital CEO and founder Michael E. Novogratz.

They and others have pledged to raise a combined $50 million for the effort, Rolling Stone reported.

criminal justice reform
Entrepreneur ad recording artist Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, from left, gestures as he poses with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Philadelphia 76ers co-owner and Fanatics executive chairman Michael Rubin, recording artist Meek Mill, Galaxy Digital CEO and founder Michael Novogratz, Brooklyn Nets co-owner Clara Wu Tsai, Third Point CEO and founder Daniel S. Loeb, and REFORM Alliance CEO and political activist Van Jones after the group announced a partnership to transform the American criminal justice system, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Reform Alliance is committed to advancing criminal justice reform and eradicating laws and policies that perpetuate injustice in the U.S. It plans to do this by getting probation bills passed at the state level, using media to amplify the need for comprehensive reform and building an inclusive, bi-partisan alliance of leaders who share a vision for transforming the criminal justice system.

Reform Alliance was launched Jan. 23, 2019 at John Jay College in New York City. Mill said it was his intention “to speak for the people who don’t have a voice.”

Kraft said he visited Mill in prison, Rolling Stone reported. “I’d never been to jail before,” Kraft told the crowd. “Going there and seeing (Mill after an invitation from Rubin), I didn’t sleep the rest of the night when I got home — I was thinking how out of touch someone like myself is with what’s really going on.”

Novogratz also said he was ashamed after watching “Time: The Kalief Browder Story” executive-produced by Jay-Z, a docuseries about a young Bronx native who committed suicide after spending 1,000-plus days in pre-trial detention. “I looked at this metaphor, this slave ship, and I was like, I live in New York City… how can this be happening?” Novogratz said.

Jay-Z credited Meek’s activism and his story as the tinder that “sparked the match for the nation.”

Meek is signed to Jay-Z’s label, Roc Nation. He was sentenced to two to four years in prison in November after being arrested in so-called violation of his probation from a 2008 gun and drug case. This sentence for technical violations outraged criminal justice reform advocates and invigorated a national debate on probation and mass incarceration, ABC News reported.

“What’s happening to Meek Mill is just one example of how our criminal justice system entraps and harasses hundreds of thousands of Black people every day,” Jay Z wrote in a New York Times op-ed criticizing probation laws.