Common and Chance the Rapper are using their platform to hopefully bring about meaningful change in Illinois’ prison system. According to multiple news outlets, the Chicago emcees gathered outside the Cook County Jail on Wednesday (Oct. 20) to help push a bill that will allow longtime prisoners to have a second chance at life.
“SB 2333 is a necessary policy that will begin to correct the harms of long-term incarceration in this state and putting an end to negative impacts that incarceration has on our community, family members, and the loved ones of those who are incarcerated,” Chance said in front of a crowd.
“We need a criminal justice system that reflects the values we want to see in this world.” After recalling some of the “torture” prisoners experienced when he performed for seven bachelors’ degree recipients at the Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill, Illinois, he suggested some ways to improve the system.
In Common’s plea for the possible restoration of parole, the “Come Close” star, who previously built a recording studio at the Crest Hill prison, called Illinois out for not granting parole like other states. He also mentioned his conversations with longtime prisoners, who are still serving time for past crimes.
“‘It’s people like me that are dealing with mental sickness and dealing with mental pain, that can change and transform,’” Common recalled an inmate saying. “It really struck me because I knew this brother, and I knew what he used to be. I knew who he was then. I’ve met some of the most enlightened and inspiring people in prison. One gentleman said to me, ‘Imagine being trapped in one act for the rest of your life, the worst act, for the rest of your life.’ I thought about that. Now, if that happened for me, I wouldn’t be up here.”
Voting on the Illinois parole bill will begin in the next two weeks.