John Legend Launches “Free America” Campaign To End Mass Incarceration

John Legend at Atlanta's Chastain Park Amphitheatre in 2014. (Photo by Robb D. Cohen/Invision/AP)
John Legend at Atlanta’s Chastain Park Amphitheatre in 2014. (Photo by Robb D. Cohen/Invision/AP)

Grammy and Academy Award-winning singer John Legend has launched a campaign to end mass incarceration by announcing today the multiyear initiative, FREE AMERICA.  He will visit and perform at a correctional facility on Thursday in Austin, Texas, where he also will be part of a press conference with state legislators to discuss Texas’ criminal justice system.

“We have a serious problem with incarceration in this country,” Legend said in an interview. “It’s destroying families, it’s destroying communities and we’re the most incarcerated country in the world, and when you look deeper and look at the reasons we got to this place, we as a society made some choices politically and legislatively, culturally to deal with poverty, deal with mental illness in a certain way and that way usually involves using incarceration.”

Legend, 36, will also visit a California state prison and co-host a criminal justice event with Politico in Washington, D.C., later this month. The campaign will include help from other artists — to be announced — and organizations committed to ending mass incarceration.

“I’m just trying to create some more awareness to this issue and trying to make some real change legislatively,” he said. “And we’re not the only ones. There are senators that are looking at this, like Rand Paul and Cory Booker, there are other nonprofits that are looking at this, and I just wanted to add my voice to that.”

Legend’s speech at the Academy Awards this year struck a chord when he spoke about mass incarceration. He won the Oscar for best original song with rapper Common for “Glory” from the film “Selma.”

The singer said an early victory for his campaign was the approval of Proposition 47 in California in November, which calls for treating shoplifting, forgery, fraud, petty theft and possession of small amounts of drugs — including cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines — as misdemeanors instead of felonies.

“Once you have that tag of a felony on your name, it’s hard for you to do anything,” Legend said. “Getting those reduced to misdemeanors really impacted a lot of lives and we hope to launch more initiatives like that around the country.”

article by Mesfin Fekadu via

8 thoughts on “John Legend Launches “Free America” Campaign To End Mass Incarceration”

  1. It is rare these days to have a Black Man stand up and speak the truth as to what is happening to them by the Justice System. Rather than complain and/or ignore the problem by totally copping out, John Legend chooses to initiate something positive that will bring attention to this tragic issue. John along with his beautiful music is appreciated even more!!

  2. We don’t have a criminal justice system. We have a criminal justice industry which thrives on the felonization of minority males. With a record you can’t get work and therefore can’t support a family. Can’t support a family in prison either. But the people that work in corrections have good pay, benefits and a pension. One class is crushed to elevate another. In America it is supposed to be a win/win for all.

  3. I applaud John Legend. Mass Incarceration and Sentencing Disparity are very real issues facing this country. A white man and a black man committing the same crime should get the same time — PERIOD! Learn about one of the worst cases of sentencing disparity in this country, Lenny Singleton, Sign his petition and watch his fiance’s video, The Making of a Miracle. Become a part of Lenny’s Miracle today.

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