I’ve complained for years that there is very little support for reforming our criminal justice system because there isn’t a monied constituency with a big stake on the matter, but perhaps some celebrity backing can help fill that void. Jay Z recently expressed his support for a California initiative that would be a step in the right direction.
Moments before performing his 1998 hit, “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)” in front of over 90,000 fans at the Rose Bowl last weekend, Jay Z expressed support for a California ballot measure that would shift state funding away from prisons and toward schools and enrichment.
“Prop 47, California: Build more schools, less prisons,” Jay Z said. “More schools, less prisons, California. They’ll never be able to stop us.” If approved by state voters in November, Proposition 47 would reduce most nonviolent crimes — including petty theft and drug possession — from felonies to misdemeanors. Nearly 10,000 prisoners could also see reductions in their sentences. The savings accrued by the state, projected to reach at least $150 million, would go into a Create a Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Fund.
The fact that Jay Z would use as prominent as stage as the much-buzzed-about “On The Run” tour to comment on prison policy is surprising, as many have criticized the rapper in recent years for failing to take a stand on social and political issues of great prominence to people of color.
More of this please. The California referendum is barely the tip of the tip of the iceberg of what needs to be done to make our justice system more fair and rational, but at least it’s a step in the right direction rather than the wrong one.