The Reform Alliance.
That’s the name of a new organization that will focus on criminal justice reform, led by Jay-Z, Meek Mill, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers Michael Rubin, Brooklyn Net’s co-owner Clara Wu Tsai, and CNN’s Van Jones, who’s the CEO.
The group all met on Wednesday, Jan. 23, at a New York City press conference to talk about the new organization, which will work on shifting state probation and parole laws. The group pooled together $50 million among themselves to help advance the cause, and one of their aims is to get one million people off probation or parole within the next five years.
Meek, who spoke at the launch, has been heavily involved with prison reform since being released from prison in April 2018. The Philadelphia rapper has been on probation since a 2008 drug and gun charge, and in November of 2017 was sent back to prison on a two- to four-year sentence for parole violation, where he spent five months.
The judge’s decision came down after the rapper was arrested for popping a wheelie on his motorcycle in New York City, and he was also arrested for being in a minor skirmish at a St. Louis airport.
Since his April release, Meek has gotten major support from people like Jay, Kraft, as well as Rubin, and Meek said he wants to help others in prison who’ve spent long amounts of time there for low-level crimes.
“I’m one of the lucky ones. We have people who don’t have a voice,” said Meek at the launch. “I’m here to speak on behalf of those people who don’t have a voice. … I got caught up in the system, and I always wondered what happened to people in situations worse than mine.”
In Jones’ speech, he made it clear the new organization would work with the existing prison reform activists who’ve been fighting for the cause for a long time. Plus, he explained the focus will be to change laws instead of hiring lawyers to work on individual cases.
Jay-Z also spoke and said Meek’s unfair treatment is what put the discussion of prison reform into the national spotlight, but it’s an issue that he’s all too familiar with.
“What Meek brought to this issue because of his celebrity and the egregiousness of the crime, popping a wheelie and breaking up a fight, sparked the match for the nation,” he explained.
“But for me, I’m from Marcy projects, I’m from Brooklyn, and this has been a part of my life. These are communities that we grow up in,” Jay added. “We’re all prisoners to this, because until everyone is free no one is free.”
The other founding members of The Reform Alliance include the founder of hedge fund Third Point LLC, Daniel S. Loeb, Galaxy Digital founder Michael E. Novogratz and founder of Vista Equity Partners Robert F. Smith.