Jay Z and John Legend have been two of the many celebrities who have been vocal about the need to end mass incarceration. So when New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans to finally close the notorious Rikers Island prison, they praised the decision.
Rikers has been the subject of federal investigations and protests over the years, with a bad reputation for mistreatment, abuse, and murder of its prisoners. De Blasio said in his announcement that he hopes to close the prison within 10 years.
"Rikers Island is an expression of a national problem," de Blasio tweeted. "The mass incarceration era did not begin in New York City but it's going to end here."
One of the most tragic victims of the prison was the late Kalief Browder, who was abused, starved and beaten in Rikers while being locked up for three years without ever getting a trial. Browder eventually was released from prison, but died by suicide in June 2015. Jay Z, who produced a documentary about Browder called Time: The Kalief Browder Story, honored his life with a tweet while sharing the news.
"Kalief is a prophet. His story will save lives," he said. "You guys watching and your compassion made this happen. Thank you."
Kalief is a prophet. His story will save lives . You guys watching and your compassion made this happen. Thank you . pic.twitter.com/Vvnt9tDBeR— Mr. Carter (@S_C_) March 31, 2017
John Legend pointed out that the issue of mass incarceration doesn't die with this news, but that it's still a big step in the right direction.