It has been announced that Roc Nation, JAY-Z’s media company founded in 2008, will be investing in an anti-incarceration app called Promise. This investment is following a number of endeavors by JAY-Z, aka Shawn Carter, to bring light to the issue of mass incarceration in America. The 48-year-old rapper co-produced the docuseries “Time: The Kalief Browder Story,” which chronicles the case of a 16-year-old young man who spent three years in Rikers Island, without being convicted of the crime he was accused of—stealing a backpack. He eventually took his own life after being released from prison.
JAY-Z has also produced the upcoming docuseries, “Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story,” a six-part series that examines the life and murder of Trayvon Martin. JAY-Z has been examining the effects of mass incarceration for some time, particularly when it hit close to home and his artist, Meek Mill was sent to prison late last year for violating his parole.
JAY-Z penned an op-ed in The New York Times, stating his frustration with America’s criminal justice system, “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,” he wrote. “I saw this up close when I was growing up in Brooklyn during the 1970s and 1980s. Instead of a second chance, probation ends up being a land mine, with a random misstep bringing consequences greater than the crime. A person on probation can end up in jail over a technical violation like missing a curfew.”
He also recently contributed to Colors for Change on Father’s Day. “Inspired by the Mama’s Day Bail Out organized by Southerners on New Ground and Color of Change, Jay donated an undisclosed sum of money to these organizations to help bail out fathers so they can be with their children in time for Father’s Day,” reported vh1.com. There has been a long string of focused philanthropy work targeting mass incarceration from JAY-Z, particularly in the past two years.
The company that is currently receiving funding from Roc Nation wrote in a press release, “Promise will provide financial assistance to those who cannot afford bail and help them with their court obligations. The app will track what they are doing by participation purposes and important dates on a unique calendar for counseling. Promise will help government agencies support those who would otherwise be in custody or who are on some form of community supervision—namely probation or parole.”