Jay Z Advocates For Prison Reform Onstage In California

“California, build more schools, less prisons.”

1. At the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles on Sunday, Aug. 3, Jay Z called for California to support Prop 47, a November ballot initiative. “California, build more schools, less prisons,” he said, before launching into his 1998 hit “Hard Knock Life.”

It’s possible he was prompted to do so after “many recent conversations about mass incarceration” with Dream Hampton, the author and activist who posted the above video on Instagram. Hampton and Jay Z previously worked as co-authors on Jay’s 2011 memoir, Decoded.

2. Here’s that quote, one more time:

3. If passed by voters, Prop 47 will reclassify several nonviolent crimes, like drug possession and petty theft, from felonies to misdemeanors.


It would then permit re-sentencing for people whose crimes had been reclassified, and funnel money saved from getting prisoners out of jails into schools.

4. The initiative’s previously been supported by Chuck D…

5. …and Russell Simmons.

6. In 2012, actor Harry Belafonte criticized Jay Z and Beyoncé, saying the couple had “turned their back on social responsibility.”

Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty

Tax records from that year obtained by The Daily later showed that while Jay Z earned approximately $63 million in 2012, he’d donated just over $6,000 to his charitable Shawn Carter Scholarship Fund. Jay responded to Belafonte’s comments in 2013, saying, “I’m offended by that because first of all, and this is going to sound arrogant, but my presence is charity.”

In 2014, Jay’s Shawn Carter Foundation reportedly netted more than $1 million in profits from a capsule clothing line organized by Jay Z and sold at Barneys in New York. Jay pledged that 100% of the collection’s profits and 10% of its first-day sales would benefit the college scholarship foundation after the project came under fire when Barneys was accused of racially profiling customers.

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