John Legend Launches Campaign Aimed to End Mass Incarceration

John Legend

Grammy and Oscar-winning singer John Legend is putting his star power to good use yet again by launching a campaign to end mass incarceration.

The ever-philanthropic star announced a multi-year initiative, FREE AMERICA, on Monday. For the effort, he will visit and perform at a correctional facility in Austin, Texas on Thursday (Apr. 16). While there, he will be part of a press conference with state legislators to discuss the criminal justice system in Texas.

“We have a serious problem with incarceration in this country,” Legend said in an interview with The Associated Press. “It’s destroying families, it’s destroying communities and we’re the most incarcerated country in the world, and when you look deeper and look at the reasons we got to this place, we as a society made some choices politically and legislatively, culturally to deal with poverty, deal with mental illness in a certain way and that way usually involves using incarceration.”

Legend, 36, will also visit a California state prison and co-host a criminal justice event with Politico in Washington, D.C., later this month. Other artists and organizations are expected to join him in the FREE AMERICA campaign, and will be announced at a later date.

“I’m just trying to create some more awareness to this issue and trying to make some real change legislatively,” he said. “And we’re not the only ones. There are senators that are looking at this, like Rand Paul and Cory Booker, there are other nonprofits that are looking at this, and I just wanted to add my voice to that.”

The star also spoke out about mass incarceration this year at the Academy Award when he took the stage to accept the Oscar for best original song with rapper Common for “Glory” from the film “Selma.”

(Photo Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)