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Jay-Z and Meek Mill launch prison reform organization

Rappers Meek Mill and Jay-Z joined a group of business leaders to launch REFORM Alliance in an effort to fight against unjust parole and probation violation sentences.

Posted: Jan 24, 2019 5:30 PM
Updated: Jan 24, 2019 5:30 PM

Rappers Jay-Z and Meek Mill have joined with sports and business leaders to try and reform the criminal justice system.

The pair were on hand Wednesday at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York to announce the formation of the REFORM Alliance, an organization that aims to reduce the number of people serving unjust parole and probation sentences.

In addition to Jay-Z and Mill, the founding partners include Philadelphia 76ers co-owner and Fanatics executive chairman Michael Rubin, 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, Galaxy Digital CEO and founder Michael E. Novogratz, and Vista Equity Partners founder, chairman and CEO Robert F. Smith.

The group has pledged $50 million to launch the organization and hired CNN political commentator Van Jones as CEO.

Jones said in a statement that the job "is the opportunity of a lifetime."

"I have spent my entire adult life preparing myself to help lead an initiative of this magnitude," he said. "I'm looking forward to working with this powerful group of founders to disrupt the status quo and shift the criminal justice system landscape for generations to come."

Both Jay-Z and Mill have been outspoken in their advocacy for criminal justice reform.

In 2017 Mill received a 2- to 4-year prison sentence for violating probation on a 2008 gun and drug case.

He was arrested in 2017 after being involved in a fight and then again in another incident that involved him popping wheelies on a dirt bike.

The #FreeMeekMill movement resulted in his release after five months in prison and shone a light on what critics said was the excessive nature of the rapper's original sentence of a decade on probation.

Meek Mill on prison reform: 'We are trapped inside of a system'

Since then, Mill has taken up the fight to make sure others don't receive a similarly harsh sentence.

"I got caught up in the system and every time I started to further my life with the music industry ... every year or two it was something that brought me back to ground zero, and it was probation," Mill said during Wednesday's press conference to announce the alliance.

Jay-Z was one of several celebs who rallied around Mill while he was jailed.

In November, Jay-Z wrote an opinion piece for The New York Times in which he took up the fight for justice for Mill and said the criminal justice system "stalks black people."

Jay-Z takes on criminal justice reform in wake of Meek Mill sentence

On Wednesday he said the pair had grown up in an environment where they witnessed the unevenness of such a system when it comes to people of color.

"We want to be very clear, if someone commits a crime they should go to jail," Jay-Z said. "But these things are just disproportionate and the whole world knows it."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 343505

Reported Deaths: 7543
CountyCasesDeaths
Hinds23932444
DeSoto23229283
Harrison20527329
Rankin15411291
Jackson15232252
Madison10959227
Lee10719179
Jones9047169
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Clay197654
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Calhoun181332
Smith179235
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Greene140134
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Perry133538
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Jefferson Davis116734
Tunica114227
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Claiborne105331
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Humphreys100133
Franklin87923
Quitman84719
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Wilkinson78032
Jefferson71328
Sharkey51618
Issaquena1736
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 585607

Reported Deaths: 11536
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson851431591
Mobile48584864
Madison37411533
Shelby27192257
Tuscaloosa27145465
Montgomery26119627
Baldwin25207329
Lee17184181
Calhoun15382334
Morgan15147291
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Limestone10699158
Cullman10503205
Lauderdale10240254
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Talladega8935188
Walker7775288
Autauga7537114
Jackson7384117
Blount7352139
Colbert6691142
Coffee6342132
Dale5605117
Russell478943
Chilton4763117
Covington4738125
Franklin456681
Tallapoosa4511156
Escambia439283
Chambers3936125
Dallas3742163
Clarke370563
Marion3455107
Pike332079
Lawrence3257100
Winston298373
Bibb289765
Geneva282883
Marengo262267
Barbour250661
Pickens245262
Butler240172
Hale235178
Fayette226765
Henry212845
Monroe201541
Randolph200344
Cherokee198848
Washington184339
Macon169752
Crenshaw167758
Clay165659
Cleburne161145
Lamar150938
Lowndes145355
Wilcox132331
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Conecuh120632
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Perry110328
Sumter110333
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