Jay Z Advocates for Prison Reform During California Concert

Jay Z, with Beyoncé, attends Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., May 2, 2014.
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During the most recent stop of the On the Run Tour in Los Angeles, Jay Z took to the stage and made a political statement with regard to California’s Proposition 47.

 “California, build more schools, less prisons,” the rapper said Sunday, right before starting his “Hard Knock Life” song.


Prop 47 will be included on California’s November ballot, and aims to reduce the penalty for some nonviolent crimes by changing their designations from felonies to misdemeanors, which could result in shorter sentences.

One of the highlights and residual effects of Prop 47 is that the money that would be spent on the prison system could be spent on more beneficial things, like schools and mental health programs. It’s estimated that $150 million to $250 million would go toward those programs.

Writer and activist dream hampton posted Jay Z’s political stance on Instagram:

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.


The Brooklyn. N.Y.-born rapper isn't always the most outspoken when it comes to politics and social issues. Last year, Jay Z was criticized by Harry Belafonte for “turning his back on social responsibility.”

Yesha Callahan is editor of The Grapevine and a staff writer at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.


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