“Prop 47, California; build more schools, less prisons,” Hov said during a show last Sunday (August 3) at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California—one of the many stops on his and Beyonce’s On The Run Tour—before launching into “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem).”
Set to be included on the ballot during elections in California in November, Prop 47, which is also known as the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act,” would reduce the penalty for some non-violent crimes from federal to misdemeanors, resulting in shorter sentences.
In turn, according to the proposal, prisons would be less crowded and instead of spending money on inmates, the state would potentially be saving $1 billion over the next five years, and then redirecting those funds towards “K-12 school programs (25%), victim services (10%) and mental health and drug treatment (65%).”
Like most of Jay’s decisions, the one to speak out (albeit briefly) on this issue seems thoroughly thought out. From author and activist dream hampton, who posted the above video on Instagram and has worked with the rapper in the past, including as a ghostwriter for his 2011 book Decoded:
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.
Of course, were this to pass, it would only be a small — though helpful — step towards alleviating the mass incarceration –which hampton referenced and which is currently plaguing the U.S. It likely wouldn’t change the fact that the U.S. has the highest rate of incarceration in the world, with 2.2 million people behind bars — a number that’s gone up 500% in the last three decades. Or that the country spent $80 billion on incarceration in 2010.
But it’s a start. And any Jay Z shoutout can help.