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Justice in America Episode 4: A Conversation With John Legend

Josie and Clint talk with the artist about criminal justice reform and his #FREEAMERICA campaign.

John Legend

Justice in America Episode 4: A Conversation With John Legend

Josie and Clint talk with the artist about criminal justice reform and his #FREEAMERICA campaign.


John Legend isn’t just one of the most talented musicians of our time—he’s also a leading activist on criminal justice reform. On this episode, Justice in America talks to Legend—singer, songwriter, actor, producer, and founder of #FREEAMERICA, a campaign designed to change the national conversation around criminal justice policies.

John sat down with Josie in Los Angeles, where they talked about prosecutors, bail, immigration, and more.

Justice in America is available on iTunes, Soundcloud, Sticher, GooglePlay Music, Spotify, and LibSyn RSS. You can also check us out on Facebook and Twitter. Our email is justiceinamerica@theappeal.org.

To learn more about #FREEAMERICA, check out their website.

Earlier this week, John wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post on the racist origins of Louisiana’s non-unanimous jury system.

In June, he co-wrote this piece for CNN with Color of Change Executive Director Rashad Robinson on the need to end cash bail.

Here’s another op-ed he wrote on police brutality in 2014, after the deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner.

And yet another piece by John on ending juvenile life without parole in his home state of Ohio.

Transcript:

[Begin Clip]

John Legend: I think we’ve come to believe as a society that prison is pretty much the only way we deal with crime, the only way we deal with poverty, the only way we deal with any kind of mental illness or drug addiction and it can’t be the case that prison is a solution for all of these issues and so I think getting in the prisons and the jails and speaking to these folks helps you realize that there’s so much more to their stories.

[End Clip]

Josie Duffy Rice: Hey everyone. I’m Josie Duffy Rice.

Clint Smith: And I’m Clint Smith.

Josie: And this is Justice in America. Each show we discuss a topic in the American criminal justice system and try to explain what it is and how it works.

Clint: Thank you everyone for joining us today. You can find us on Twitter @Justice_Podcast and like our Facebook page where you can find us at Justice in America and please subscribe and rate us on iTunes. We’d love to hear from you and it really helps.

Josie: So we started the show with a clip from our guest, John Legend, the critically acclaimed multi award winning platinum selling singer songwriter. John has been at the forefront of criminal justice reform, but you surely know him more for his work as an artist. He has garnered 10 Grammy Awards, an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, and a Tony, among others. And he’s now up for an Emmy. John also serves as one of the principles for Get Lifted Film Company, a film and television production company based in Los Angeles.

Clint: In 2015, John initiated the #FreeAmerica campaign, a campaign designed to change the national conversation of our country’s misguided criminal justice policies and to end mass incarceration. You can check out his website at letsfreeamerica.com and he has also worked with Color of Change on their Meet Your DA Campaign, urging people to know more about their district attorney. So Josie had the pleasure of going to California to have a conversation with John and throughout the interview you’ll hear him reiterate some of the most important points that we’ve talked about with our other guests. And if you’re new to the podcast, we hope that you’ll listen to some of our other guests and some of our other episodes that go into a bit more detail about the important issues that John brings up. Hope you enjoy it.

[Music]

Josie: Hi John. Thank you so much for joining us.

John Legend: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Josie: We’re really excited to talk to you. I’ve interviewed you before about criminal justice reform. That was in 2016, which was a very different time than the time that we are in now.

John Legend: Yeah things have changed a little bit.

Josie: Yeah things have shifted just a teensy bit.

John Legend: Pre November 2016.

Josie: Right, the two areas of our lives.

John Legend: Yes.

Josie: Um, I thought it would be good to start out with you talking about why this is such an important issue to you and maybe why it’s especially important now.

John Legend: So criminal justice reform has been something I’ve been thinking about pretty heavily for the past several years, but the criminal justice system has been in my life via my family, via my friends, via people in my neighborhood since I can remember being alive. I’ve had friends that got locked up. I’ve had my own mother spent significant amount of time in jail and the criminal justice system has affected the neighborhood I grew up in and and other neighborhoods in my city. So I personally knew that it was a destructive force in a lot of communities and particularly in communities of color for a long time. But I think I always kind of took it as a given that this was how it is. That these laws are the laws that will be in place forever and that they’d been in place for a long time and there’s nothing we can do about it. Our law enforcement’s  just enforcing them. Our judges and lawyers are just kind of going through the motions and nothing can really change. But the more I started to read about it and talk about it with people who are experts in the field, I realized that there is a lot more we can do and also that we took a lot of steps over the last forty or so years to get to this place. It wasn’t like this before. It’s not like this in a lot of other countries and there’s a lot we can do to make change. And so I started to really focus on this area, partly through anger. Through seeing the statistics, through seeing what it had done to so many communities, through seeing, uh, that were the most incarcerated country in the world. All these things that I saw and read and books like The New Jim Crow and Just Mercy and other books that kind of helped get me my primer in what’s going on in the system. And then talking to folks, you know, talking to inmates, talking to people who were formerly incarcerated and people who work in the system in one way or another. I just started to learn a lot more. And through that anger and passion started to develop some ideas about how I could get involved and make a difference.

Josie: So that actually leads me to my next question, which is what your activism looks like in particular. I know that you’re doing work with Color of Change. I know you’ve visited prisons. I thought you could talk a little bit about like what actual form it takes for you to be involved in this.

John Legend: So we want a few things to happen. We want, I know you talk a lot about prosecutors and the role that prosecutors play in their communities and how much discretion they have, so we’ve been paying particular attention to that and that’s something we learned over time as we started to talk to more people who have a stake in the system. Um, a lot of people were pointing to this issue of prosecutors, which was I think a couple of years ago pretty undercovered as an issue that we should be concerned about. But lately it’s been getting a lot of buzz because people like us have been talking about it and saying this is something we should be paying attention to. So we did a campaign with the ACLU starting in California saying, Know Your Da, uh, and you know, we call them DAs in certain places, state’s attorneys in other places. But the general idea is that prosecutors have a lot of power over who gets prosecuted, what crime they’re prosecuted for, what level of priority to place upon certain crimes versus others, what kinds of sentencing that we’re asking the judges to go for, what kind of plea bargains are made. Uh, all of these things are determined pretty much by the prosecutor, uh, with very little check on them. The judges have a rubber stamp and they approve a lot of what goes on. And, and, uh, and the prosecutors really have a lot of the power, particularly because a lot of the cases don’t go to trial. So what’s happening is, you know, only one or two percent of the cases are going to trial and the rest of them are, are being determined before trial. And the prosecutor is making most of those decisions unless there’s a kind of equal counterweight in the defense that has some more power and clout, which most defendants don’t have.

Josie: Right, right.

John Legend: So knowing that, knowing the power that they have, um, we started to pay attention to who these people are, what are their priorities, how have they been behaving over the last few terms that they’ve been in office and had they been running unopposed, have they been responsive to the communities concerns, have they been thinking holistically about what criminal justice reform looks like and what the criminal justice system should be doing in the first place? Should the goal be to convict as many people and lock them up for as long as possible or should the goal be to think more holistically about what’s healthier for the community? Not just the victims of the crimes but for the entire community. Um, so these are the kinds of questions and things we’ve been looking at over the years and decided that we would get involved in elections to the extent that we can, by finding candidates that would be more progressive and, and smarter about justice and supporting them in any way that we can. And also just bringing general awareness up about this role that prosecutors play and saying to the voters that they need to be aware of that and vote accordingly.

Josie: Right. You all have done some really incredible work around DAs over the past few years. I’m hoping you can talk a little bit more about your personal work and the work that the Free America campaign has done on other issues as well.

John Legend: Yes. We’ve also done other advocacy and public awareness around bail reform, which is another critical issue that a lot of people don’t pay attention to, uh, but recently they are. The bail reform issue is important because, uh, even though we think of mass incarceration as big federal prisons, and sometimes maybe we think of them as state prisons, in actuality, federal prisons only take up a small percentage of the total incarcerated population. State prisons are larger than federal prisons as a percentage of the whole, but a huge portion of the people that are locked up every day, on any given day are people that are in relatively short term stays in jails. Short term could be two years, but it’s not after they’ve been convicted of the crime. If they have a ten year sentence, they’re going to serve it in the state prison or the federal prison. But, uh, prior to their conviction, if they don’t have bail money or if the judge doesn’t allow bail, then these folks could be locked up for many months without ever being convicted of anything. And the reason they are locked up is because they can’t afford to pay their way out.

Josie: They’re just poor.

John Legend: We’ve seen Paul Manafort, we’ve seen other people who, when given the opportunity to pay even a million dollars, even several million dollars, Harvey Weinstein, we’ve seen all of them be able to pay their way out of jail. They haven’t been convicted of anything but they’ve been accused. And just like them, there are many other people who haven’t been convicted of anything but have been accused and are sitting in jail right now because they can’t afford much smaller amounts. It’s $1,000, $500, $5,000, $10,000 amounts that many of us listening to this podcast may be able to afford, but most folks in America are living paycheck to paycheck. They can’t see past that paycheck to afford anything, let alone afford being locked up in jail, uh, getting their jobs and their lives interrupted and then also having to pay a fine or a bail amount to get out.

Josie: Right, right.

John Legend: And so, so many people are locked up in jail because they are poor. And we believe that that’s fundamentally unfair. If the idea is that you can, you can rich your way out of being in jail for no other reason than the fact that you’re rich, that goes against everything that we should believe in this country as far as what equal justice means. And so we’ve been fighting for bail reform, with Color of Change with some other organizations, saying that nobody should be locked up because they can’t afford to pay bail. We want to end cash bail. Period. So the only reason you would be held in jail is because you’re deemed to be too risky to be out in the community. Otherwise you go home. Maybe you have to be monitored, maybe there are other things, uh, but otherwise you should go home. You should be with your family, you should be able to go to work and, uh, unless you’re convicted of a crime, uh, you shouldn’t be incarcerated in any way.

Josie: Right. And one other thing that I know that you’ve done that I find particularly interesting, you’ve gone to jails, who’ve gone to prison.

John Legend: Yeah.

Josie: And I think that a lot of people who do this work, even who do this work full time, right, don’t actually spend time with, in these systems. They don’t actually go to these prisons and jails and I think the vast majority people who do this not as their primary job don’t do that. And so I’m interested in why that’s been important to you. The background of why is something I’d love to hear about.

John Legend: Well, first, all I came into this wanting to learn. So I wanted to actually speak to people who were impacted by what goes on in the criminal justice system and you can’t just talk to prosecutors, you can’t just talk to lawyers, you have to talk to people who are actually incarcerated, people who know what it’s like, who know what it’s like to be away from their family. I wanted to be proximate to their emotion, to their struggle, um, so that I could be a better advocate for them. And also I wanted to be a better storyteller and it’s important for us to be able to shine a light on their stories and be able to communicate, uh, their stories to the rest of the country and to the world. And the only way we can do that is going to talk to them.

Josie: Right. I know that you went to an immigration facility.

John Legend: Yes. We’ve been to county jails, one in Texas, Austin, we’ve been to one in a Louisiana. We’ve been to state prisons here in California. We’ve been to federal prisons. We’ve been to women’s, men’s, a juvenile facility. Uh, we went to one in the District of Columbia, we’ve been a detention center on the border in Arizona or near the border. And so, uh, we’ve, uh, we’ve seen quite a few types of facilities.

Josie: Right, right. Let’s talk about your visit to that detention center in Arizona. I know that you held a concert there.

John Legend: Yes.

Josie: But before we get into it, let’s play a quick clip from the ABC News coverage of your visit.

[Begin Clip]

Man: Music legend, John Legend, lends his powerful voice to controversial issue.

Woman: The Grammy Award winning singer joined forces with Colombian rockstar Juanes to perform outside of the Cloy Detention Center in Arizona yesterday. Their aim to raise awareness of the connection between mass deportations and the disproportionate incarceration of people of color in the US.

[Clip of John Legend and Juanes performing]

Man: Well, the Eloy Immigration Detention Center is located about a hundred miles from the Mexican border and holds an estimated fifteen hundred people.

[End Clip]

Josie: That must’ve been an incredible and very rare opportunity. Can you tell us more about the experience?

John Legend: Yeah. Well, we weren’t allowed to go in, but we did a lot of talking to folks that are advocates on behalf of immigrants who are dealing with the immigration system and, and trying to navigate it. And what you realize is, first of all, um, the whole idea of legal immigration didn’t even exist like a century ago. People talk about when my parents came here, my grandparents came here legally, but-

Josie: There were no rules!

John Legend:  There weren’t any rules back then, you just kinda came.

Josie: Right, right.

John Legend: You just kind of showed up. And then you also realize that America, as it’s constituted and the borders as they are defined now, uh, you know, a lot of it was formally Mexico anyway. A lot of the folks that live here, they say that they didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us. That’s like a real thing. And now I understand we have a border and I don’t believe that we shouldn’t have any kind of security system or any kind of awareness of that border. But I do believe that the system should be much more responsive to real life. People are coming here to work and if there weren’t jobs here, they wouldn’t come. If there was no one to hire them, they wouldn’t come. They don’t want to come here and live in the shadows and and live in fear every day. But if we have a system that makes it so impossible for them to do it legally, then a lot of people are going to respond to the incentives and the disincentives in the system and say, ‘life where I come from is harder than it would be for me to come here and live in the shadows in America and so I’m going to make the attempt. It’s worth it to me to try.’ And it doesn’t make them an evil person and people talk about them like they’re criminals. Criminal only in the very, very most technical sense of having committed a misdemeanor of crossing the border at the wrong spot and a lot of times they’re crossing the border at the wrong spot because they’re being turned away from the right spot.

Josie: Exactly.

John Legend: And they’re being turned away from the right spot on purpose by people who want to arrest them for coming across at the wrong spot. So if their only transgression is really a technicality at this point, calling them a criminal is like calling me a criminal for jaywalking or calling me a criminal for any number of administrative things I haven’t done properly or perhaps our president, uh, for how many times he’s probably dodged his taxes or all these other things. You know, there’s all kinds of crimes that people commit in life and prosecutors and the executive branch have to make a decision about which ones to prioritize and to focus on, uh, when it comes to law enforcement. And clearly the president has made a choice that he’s going to treat everyone who tries to come here even as asylum seekers, as criminals. And that is wrong. It’s wrong, it’s immoral and it’s a racist, it’s all those things and all of the separation and essentially the kidnapping of these kids that are coming across from their parents, is premised on the idea that these people are criminals and all they’re doing is committing the offense of trying to come to America for a better life.

Josie: You know, you think about all these people, you’re on Twitter, so, and I’m sure you get just-

John Legend: A lot.

Josie: (Laughs) Yeah. The worst of the worst.

John Legend: (Laughs) I invited you to the party one day when I retweeted you.

Josie: (Laughing) Yeah. And then we were both being called, [inaudible 17:35] right. No, but it’s interesting because I’m constantly getting comments of people saying, ‘Well, these are bad parents because how could they do their kid? Why would you put your kid through this?’

John Legend:  They’re the best parents.

Josie: Can you imagine what you would have to do as a parent to try this? How bad it would have to be?

John Legend: They care so much about their family that they want to try to escape violence and danger and they’re going to go through violence and danger to get here and risk, you know, Trump, like, you know, the full weight of the ICE and customs and border patrol on them and a whole system that’s designed to make it hard for them to get here now. They risk all of that because they think it’s worth the risk.

Josie: Right.

John Legend: And so I can’t blame them for doing that.

Josie: No, not at all.

John Legend: And I didn’t kind of answer your question because I didn’t say how similar the immigration detention centers are with jails and prisons, but I will say I wasn’t able to go inside, but I will say that from what I know about them, one of the things that’s interesting is that a lot of the same operators or operating both, some of the same facilities that were formerly prisons are now being used for immigration detention centers. Many of them are for profit companies that are running them and so there’s an incentive, whenever there’s money being made per incarcerated person or a detained person, then you have to question whatever the motives are going to be for the people operating the facilities and also for lawmakers who are in the pockets of those folks. The incentive is to lock more people up. But you add with a fear and a bigotry toward brown people and black people and you have what you have now, where you’re calling these folks animals and an infestation and vermin and you’re treating them as such. That’s what our administration is doing right now and they’re doing it with our tax dollars and under our name and we need to do something about it which is vote them out, be active and uh, let our politicians know that we’re paying attention and they can’t do this in our name.

Joise: Absolutely. Does anything from all those places that you’ve gone stand out in your mind as particularly moving or surprising or shocking? And along with that question, the question that Clint wanted to ask is how you’ve kind of evolved on this issue? And I, and I think those are related, right? Like I remember going into a prison and realizing that like they had to pay for tampons. How that was such a moment for me of being like, man, this is just a crazy system. And I think everybody who spends some time in these facilities has those moments of thinking, this is moving to me in a way that, um, this is a especially moving to me, and I’m wondering if you have any of those?

John Legend: Well there’s a lot of those stories. You just start to realize a fundamental just cruelty of the facilities that we put people in and it’s not because the people that are working there are evil people, but the system itself is meant to humiliate people. It’s meant to separate them from their families and anybody that they love, it’s meant to make everything as hard as possible for them. Whether it’s going online to do some research, whether it’s reading a book, whether it’s calling home, whether it’s getting messages to and from the other family, it’s so many just little indignities that people suffer every day that just stack up to making life as hard as possible for them. And I know some people listening may think, well, if they murdered someone, if they raped someone, if they did something really heinous, then this is what they deserve. I think oftentimes we end up thinking about the most extreme crimes as the justification for kind of the general status quo, but we have to realize that most of the people in these prisons are there for things that are much more morally less clear, uh, than we think when we think of kind of the worst case scenario of why they’re in there. Because of course the worst rapists, the worst serial killer, a lot of us would be okay with visiting as much indignity upon them as possible. But when you start to hear the stories of these folks, a lot of the moral clarity that you might think you had before starts to slip away. You start to hear that they had been victims of abuse most of the time. You start to hear that they have drug addiction issues that they haven’t been able to deal with, mental health issues that they haven’t been able to deal with. All these things that society has allowed to happen to them and actually inflicted upon them, in so many ways, um, impact why they committed a crime. The fact that they were not represented well in court and had to plea to something that no one with resources and money would have ever plead to. All these things are mitigating circumstances that make you realize that there’s a lot more story around these convictions that we treat in a way that’s really black and white, but it’s actually, there’s so much more color and much more gray to every story. Um, and that’s not to be overly kind of morally relativist. Um, but I think it is important that we understand the stories of the folks that are in there and understand how they got to that place so we can prevent other people from getting there. And also so that the system can really address the actual issues that they’re dealing with. And I think we’ve come to believe as a society that prison is pretty much the only way we deal with crime. The only way we deal with poverty, the only way we deal with any kind of mental illness or drug addiction. And it can’t be the case that prison is a solution for all of these issues. And so I think getting in the prisons and jails and speaking to these folks helps you realize that there’s so much more to their stories and helps you realize that we need to have a system that’s much more nuanced and responsive to real life and to how humans actually interact and how they live and thinking holistically about how we create communities that are healthier and safer for everybody.

Josie: I’m wondering, and interpret this however you want, I’m wondering why you think we’re like this? So America incarcerates more people than any other place in the world, like you said. Right? And obviously America is not a perfect nation. It was built imperfectly. It is founded on imperfect principles.

John Legend: Yes.

Josie: You know, but that’s a heavy weight to carry that we carry. I wonder why you think this is us?

John Legend: Like a lot of things I think it goes back to slavery and to racism in a lot of ways. When you start a nation with an entire class of people who are treated as kind of beneath human caste and then try to build from that, it’s hard to let go of that legacy and it’s been particularly hard for America to let go of that legacy because honestly, we haven’t wanted to in so many ways. If you look at what happened after the Civil War, uh, we had a brief period of Reconstruction and then everything just snapped back and actually got worse for a lot of people because there were a whole bunch of people that were vested in the system as it was before and wanted it to stay the same or pretty similar to where they had the power and control and they kept a certain group of people as a, as a, a permanent lower caste. And when you see people as subhuman, when you want to control their movements, when you see them as inherently violent or you want to believe that they are inherently violent or stupid, or inherently anything, you want to believe about them, you will erect systems that help reinforce that belief and that system. And so what we’ve done as a country is we started incarcerating a lot of people in, in many ways, the whole criminal justice system is built around controlling black bodies. The whole lynching system was about controlling black bodies. Um, even our resistance, I think, to the kind of European style socialism, in my opinion, is because we’ve always been able to depict the recipients of the benefits of socialism as other people that don’t look like me, if I were a white person, don’t look like me and don’t deserve these benefits. And so I think so many of the failings of America have to do with being able to look at black people and say they don’t deserve benefits, they don’t deserve to be treated as normal humans and allowing the system to kind of reinforce that in every way.

Josie: Yeah. Yeah, I think that’s so interesting about the socialism point, I hadn’t thought of that at all. I think that’s really true.

John Legend: I believe the reason we don’t have universal healthcare, the reason we don’t have a more robust social safety net, the reason we don’t have quality public education for everyone is because racism. It’s like, period.

Josie: Right, right.

John Legend: Like I, I think there are other things about America like rugged individualism and the frontier spirit and all that, but the overriding reason that makes us so different from a lot of other Western democracies in this area is that legacy of slavery and permanent underclass that black people have been in and the resistance to any kind of socialism I think has been a byproduct of that as well.

Josie: Yeah, and that individualism is that too, right? Like, I like individualism because I don’t actually want to be a ‘we’ with you all. Yeah.

John Legend: Yeah, yeah.

Josie: I think that is really true.

John Legend: I think so much of it is rooted in that and, you know, I feel like black intellectuals and people who pay attention to racism, I feel like sometimes we’re like, we get tired of bringing up racism because it’s like-

Josie:  I wish I could talk about something else, right?

John Legend: Yeah we don’t want to talk about all the time. It’s like Jesus, I don’t want to talk about it. I wish it just didn’t exist so I didn’t have to talk about it. But it’s so present in everything that we see wrong in America. It’s hard for us not to bring it up.

Josie: Yeah. So how do you see the moment that we’re in, with a president who, I think you would agree with me, is part and parcel of the white supremacy, of an immigration system that is literally tearing apart families, to me, you can’t separate this from this criminal justice system that we’ve obviously created and let kind of flourish. And I’m wondering what you think about that, how he sort of fits into this scheme of punishment as a priority of America, um, but also how this sort of immigration policy from the Muslim ban to the border stuff reflects that?

John Legend: I think there are quite a few things about him that are pretty clear. One, he is clearly a racist and a white supremacist and he believes that his genetic material is superior to that of, of darker people. He believes that. I think he was taught that by his father probably, um, his father marched with the KKK. And I think it’s something that is in his, his brain and his blood I don’t know, whatever it is. And he’s, he’s believed that since whenever. He practiced that when he was renting out real estate in New York and was, you know, sued for it back in the seventies. He’s made it clear over the years that he thinks brown and black people are lesser than white people and he’s not only done it as an kind of attitude or a posture or you know, some intemperate remarks. He’s put it into policy as a business person and now he’s putting it into policy that as the President of the United States. And it’s important to think about what that means when it comes to law and order because he’s said that he’s the law and order president, and I think Chris Hayes has done a good job of talking about what law and order means to him, because it doesn’t mean that someone like Paul Manafort or Michael Flynn or any other people that are clearly committing crimes, it doesn’t mean that those people should be subject to the law, that those people should be punished equally to other people, that those people, his team, the ranchers in Oregon or the, uh, Sheriff, Arpaio in Arizona. Those people got a raw deal. Those people weren’t treated fairly by the criminal justice system. And when he’s talking about himself, the FBI is dirty, they’re crooks, they’re crooked and, and can’t be trusted, when he’s talking about his own personal liability in this, in this Russian investigation. So he doesn’t believe in law in order for him and people like him and people on his team. But he most certainly believes that the full weight of the law should be visited upon brown and black people in the most cruel manner possible. He’s made that abundantly clear and so his belief in law and order is very discriminatory and it’s not a belief in law and order at all actually, if you believe law and order means you’re treating people equally, no matter what their station is or what their color is or what their religion is, he doesn’t believe in law and order.

Josie: Right, and it’s interesting, I was writing about this just on the right, this anger and sort of indignance about Mueller and this constant talk about how like he’s overstepping power and look at this prosecutor, you would think it would not be that much of a mental leap to think ‘if they’re doing this to me, what are prosecutors doing to other people?’

John Legend: Yeah but they don’t care about fairness. They care about power, they care about supremacy.

Josie: Right.

John Legend: They care about authoritarianism. That’s really what defines the conservative movement right now. It’s not really any principles. It’s about power, it’s about authority, it’s about dominance.

Josie: Right.

John Legend: It’s about maintaining the status quo and the people who are currently in power continuing to be  in power.

Josie: Yeah. Thank you so much, John. This was great. I’m so excited that we got to do this.

John Legend: My pleasure. Thank you.

[Music]

Josie: So that was John Legend, singer, songwriter, actor, producer, founder of #FreeAmerica. #FreeAmerica is a campaign designed to change the national conversation of our country’s misguided criminal justice policies and we’re so grateful that John took the time to talk to us.

Clint: Thank you for listening to Justice in America. I’m Clint Smith.

Josie: I’m Josie Duffy Rice.

Clint: Again, you can find us on Twitter @Justice_Podcast, like our Facebook page at Justice in America, and subscribe and rate us on iTunes.

Josie: This episode of Justice in America was recorded at the Family Affair Studio. Our engineer was Jeff Gunnell. Our show is produced by Florence Barrau-Adams. Production assistant is Trendel Lightburn with additional research support by Johanna Wald. Join us next time.