Russell Simmons Convenes Allies for #JusticeReformNOW

“Every once in awhile a book comes around that changes the conversation,” said Van Jones, President of Dream Corps and co-founder of #cut50. He was introducing Shaka Senghor, author of Writing My Wrongs and director of strategy and innovation at #cut50, to a house full of friends and allies on a rainy night in Los Angeles.

That evening, music executive Russell Simmons, who has been a long-time advocate for criminal justice reform, hosted stars like Alicia Silverstone, Aloe Blacc, and Harrison Barnes to learn more about the fight for reform in 2016 and hear Shaka’s story of redemption and transformation.

“We need criminal justice reform now because there are far too many men and women being locked up and not given a second chance,” said Shaka, who gave one of the top 10 TED talks of 2014. Members of his audience had tears in their eyes as he recounted his 7 years in solitary confinement and the difficulty of watching his children grow up while he was incarcerated.

Shaka Senghor and Russell Simmons

“There are far too many children growing up without parents. My parents had to drive for 12 hours just so I could touch my own children for a moment, before they were taken away again.”

 Shaka is co-founder of #BeyondPrisons, a new initiative of #cut50 and Dream Corps.

Shaka is set to become a household name in 2016. His soon-to-be-released memoir traces his journey from childhood to the streets of Detroit, where he sold drugs and lived a life of crime that resulted in a 19-year-prison sentence.

Note: Pre-order your copy of Writing My Wrongs and receive an exclusive excerpt from the book: http://bit.ly/1SI51tR

 

Shaka Senghor and Harrison Barnes of the Golden State Warriors

 “Incarceration destroys individuals, families, and communities,” said #cut50 National Director Jessica Jackson Sloan, whose husband was sentenced to 15 years in prison for a non-violent crime, leaving her with a small daughter who asked everyday to see her dad. Sloan talked about the inhumane hardships their family faced, like not even knowing which facilities he was being moved to, or not being able to afford the weekly $21 phone call.

#cut50’s Jessica Jackson Sloan

 “The idea we can all get behind is the economics,” said former BET President Reggie Hudlin. “It costs so much more to send a person to prison than to college. As a nation we are hurting ourselves putting so many resources into warehousing people, where they arguably become worse criminals. The tragedy of the prison system is no one is talking about breaking the cycle, rehabilitation, and reducing crime in a meaningful way.”

 #cut50 urged everyone to sign the petition asking Congress and the President to end the culture of punishment run amuck.

#cut50 team directors Shaka Senghor, Van Jones, and Jessica Jackson Sloan

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