Meek Mill, Jay-Z, 76ers, Nets, Patriots fight for justice reform

Michael Rubin Robert Kraft JAY-Z Meek Mill and Van Jones

Rappers Meek Mill and Jay-Z and the owners of the Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets and Super Bowl-bound New England Patriots came together in NY on Wednesday to announce the launch of an organization that will lobby for changes to state probation and parole laws. "I didn't sleep the rest of the night when I went home because here I'm thinking how out of touch someone like myself is with what's really going on", said the Patriots owner.

"We come from the bottom", said Jay-Z, who grew up in Brooklyn public housing.

Meek, who spoke at the launch, has been heavily involved with prison reform since being released from prison in April 2018.

His incarceration triggered public outcry, and Mill's case became a flashpoint in the national conversation over the United States criminal justice system's treatment of black people.

The goal of the Reform Alliance is to free one million people from the system in the next five years, with an initial focus on parole and probation. "I didn't think this could happen to anybody", Rubin said.

Mill became a symbol for criminal justice reform activists after a judge in Pennsylvania sentenced him to 2-4 years in prison for minor violations of his probation conditions in that decade-old gun and drug possession case.

"I just wanna get off probation I been on this s-- my whole adult life. 11 years of asking for permission", he tweeted on Tuesday.

And this is one of the issues that REFORM Alliance hopes to tackle. For Michael Rubin, the co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and the executive chairman of TK Fanatics, Mill's case was eye-opening.

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The organization was conceived after Rubin arranged a meeting between Kraft and Meek Mill last spring, when the artist was in prison for a highly controversial probation violation that generated extensive media coverage and calls for change.

"What started as a sole focus to save my friend from prison has now evolved into a much bigger mission to fix a fundamentally broken system while keeping communities safer", Rubin said in a statement provided to ABC News.

"We give to charitable things and we try to do good", Kraft continued.

"These things" referred to current probation and parole practices that the group, named Reform Alliance, says imprisons offenders in a revolving door of incarceration and probation.

"What's happening to Meek Mill is just one example of how our criminal justice system entraps and harasses hundreds of thousands of black people every day".

Across the USA, roughly a third of people on parole are black, according to Bureau of Justice statistics - something Jay-Z raised at the event.

Free: 'I'm here to speak for all the people who don't have a voice, ' Mill, who remains on probation until 2023, said at the event.

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