Jay Z isn’t the only one having a very special Father’s Day this year. Thanks to the rapper, many fathers who are currently behind bars awaiting bail will now be going home.
The Songwriter’s Hall of Fame inductee recently penned an op-ed for Time in which he not only identified the for-profit bail bond industry and “its predatory lending scheme” as one of the major factors contributing to the United States being one of the most incarcerated countries in the world, but also pledged to give money to organizations that would help bail out men currently being held pending bail.
“If you’re from neighborhoods like the Brooklyn one I grew up in, if you’re unable to afford a private attorney, then you can be disappeared into our jail system simply because you can’t afford bail,” he wrote. “Millions of people are separated from their families for months at a time — not because they are convicted of committing a crime, but because they are accused of committing a crime.”
He later referenced organizations like Southerners On New Ground and Color of Change that bailed out moms for Mother’s Day. “As a father with a growing family, it’s the least I can do, but philanthropy is not a long fix, we have to get rid of these inhumane practices altogether. We can’t fix our broken criminal justice system until we take on the exploitative bail industry.”
Jay Z noted that while this is one of the issues within the American judicial system that activists and filmmakers like Ava DuVernay have been calling attention to in their work, it’s something he became “obsessed” with after helping with a docuseries about Kalief Browder, a 22-year-old black man whose family could not afford to post bail when he was accused of stealing a backpack. He spent three years on Rikers Island in solitary confinement and later died by suicide.
This isn’t the first time the Knowles-Carter family has proved philanthropic. Most recently, Beyoncé celebrated the one-year anniversary of her Peabody Award-winning visual album Lemonade by starting the Formation Scholars scholarship program, which is aimed at young women studying creative arts, music, literature, or African-American studies at Berklee College of Music, Howard University, Parsons School of Design, and Spelman College.
Read Jay Z’s full Time piece here.