When you’re part of a celebrity couple worth nearly a billion dollars, charitable support goes a long way. And when you’re Jay Z, arguably the most influential rap artist of the 21st century, the cache goes even further. Recently, Jay was in Pasadena, California at the world famous Rose Bowl as part of his “On the Run” Tour with wife Beyoncé. During the performance, he announced his support of the California bill, Proposition 47.
Proposition 47, also known as the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Initiative, is a California measure to reclassify the severity of certain crimes and reduce prison sentences. The bill will reportedly save the state over $1 billion in five years by reducing sentencing and lowering the prison population. California will use the money saved to fund public schools in low-income neighborhoods, which would be a positive move for a state that currently imprisons roughly 140,000 inmates. With nearly 28% suffering from mental illnesses, under Prop 47, $150 million to $250 million will be allocated to mental health programs.
The prominence of the prison industrial complex in America – which has the largest population of inmates in the world – has drawn the ire of countless critics who feel that the financing needed to house criminals is a direct correlation to the defunding of public school systems across the United States. All of this effects disenfranchised communities of Black and Brown people represented in the largest numbers behind bars and in low-income neighborhoods.
Author Dream Hampton, who co-wrote the novel "Decoded" about the life of Jay Z, posted the following to her Instagram account.
Many of you know that I’ve joined with #VoteYeson47 and @mrmikedelarocha push through a California ballot initiative, Prop 47 that will change petty, nonviolent crimes from felonies to misdemeanors and reallocate prison spending to prevention and schools. Thousands of poor people will no longer have felony convictions for petty crimes. Tonight, after many recent conversations about mass incarceration, Jay Z stood with us, from the Rose Bowl stage.