● Alex@cut50.org, 415.240.2016
New York City --- Today, Alicia Keys, We Are Here Movement and #cut50 launched a new campaign urging Speaker Paul Ryan to schedule a vote on criminal justice reforms. The Grammy-award winning artist is asking the Speaker of the U.S. House to show love and compassion for people negatively impacted by our criminal justice system. She is especially concerned that 2.7 million American children have at least one incarcerated parent and that too many non-violent offenders are serving lengthy mandatory minimum sentences in federal prisons.
Alicia Keys said about the campaign: “I have seen the devastating impact that incarceration has had on families. For the women and children left behind, it can deepen poverty and hopelessness. I am asking for Speaker Paul Ryan’s help in bringing about policies that can help rehabilitate instead of punish, so we can keep families together that have been unjustly torn apart by excessive incarceration. Valentine's Day is all about love and compassion, so it’s the perfect time to remind Speaker Ryan why justice reform matters to so many Americans. ”
Millions of people are negatively impacted by our criminal justice system but women are the fastest growing segment of the incarcerated population, increasing at nearly double the rate of men since 1985. Two-thirds of women in the federal prison system are incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses, the majority of whom have children. And nearly half of all federal prisoners (more than 95,000 people) are serving time for drug-related offenses.
Said Van Jones, co-founder of #cut50 and former Obama Administration adviser: “This is the one issue where everybody--from tea party conservatives to strong progressives--want to do something. This is a real test of whether our democracy can function. Because Paul Ryan has spoken so passionately about the need to do something about poverty and about criminal justice reform, it makes a lot of sense for him to put his votes where his mouth is. Speaker Ryan is joined by several prominent conservatives, the Obama Administration, and the nation’s leading law enforcement officers. We hope Speaker Ryan will lead on this issue and schedule a vote as soon as possible.”
There are only a few months left to pass criminal justice reforms. Speaker Ryan is one of the few people in Congress who can help make it happen. Announced via video message, Alicia Keys is sending a personal Valentine’s card to Speaker Ryan. She is encouraging her fans and supporters to do the same, through the We Are Here Movement website. The cards will be printed and delivered to Speaker Ryan’s office for Valentine’s Day.
The campaign is a collaboration between We Are Here, the social justice movement founded by Alicia Keys, #cut50, a bipartisan criminal justice reform initiative co-founded by Van Jones, and MomsRising a million member organization representing the most critical issues facing women, mothers and families.
The latest campaign builds upon Alicia’s commitment to fighting for meaningful criminal justice reforms and her 10 years’ experience working on groundbreaking, life-saving initiatives that have helped save millions of lives. In November, Alicia gave an impassioned plea to key members of Congress, staffers and White House officials calling for alternatives to incarceration, drug treatment, rehabilitation programs and rehabilitation for men and women returning home from prison.
#cut50 has championed bipartisan reforms that could smartly and safely reduce the U.S. prison population by 50% over the next 10 years. Their campaign for #JusticeReformNOW has organized 100+ celebrities and over 1,000,000 supporters for federal criminal justice reforms over the past year.