Prominent Public Figures Write President Obama Urging Criminal Justice Reform & Support for Youth PROMISE Act

Over one hundred prominent public leaders, entertainers and civil rights icons have written a letter to President Obama urging him to support major criminal justice reform for our youth.  And, specifically, they called for his support of the Youth PROMISE Act. Read the full letter below. Some of the signers include:

Will Smith
Michael Moore
Lil Wayne
Cameron Diaz
Scarlett Johannson
Rev. Al Sharpton
Susan Sarandon
Russell Simmons
Roseanne Bar
Kim Kardashian
Jamie Foxx
Kerry Washington
Sir Richard Branson
Woody Harrelson
Nicki Minaj
Jim Carrey
Eva Longoria
Harry Belafonte
Sarah Silverman
Demi Moore

The U.S. leads to the world in the rate of incarceration with 2.3 million people behind bars at a cost of $63 billion per year to taxpayers.  Our youth, and particularly minority youth, are hard hit by this overly punitive approach. We need significant criminal justice reform.  Add to the growing chorus and voice your support today!

While momentum is heating up, write President Obama urging support for the Youth PROMISE Act and smart criminal justice reform. >>

The Youth PROMISE Act will provide our hardest hit communities around the country with the support and funding they need to effectively address youth violence issues. By specifically focusing on innovative, evidence-based violence prevention and intervention strategies, this bill ensures we are funding programs that save lives and give every young person the opportunity to meet his or her potential.

The Act will help engage and divert at-risk youth proactively — before they slip into cycles of violence, incarceration and despair. And, these community-based practices have been shown to reduce rates of violence more effectively and at a substantially lower cost than criminal enforcement and incarceration. Write the President today!

Thank you!


Dear President Obama,

Your hard work and leadership on issues affecting the unrepresented classes of people in our nation have served as an inspiration to many of us who hope for brighter futures for all Americans. In that spirit, we believe the time is right to further the work you have done around revising our national policies on the criminal justice system and continue moving from a suppression-based model to one that focuses on intervention and rehabilitation. We are proud of your accomplishments around these issues, specifically your leadership on gun control, your investments in “problem solving courts,” your creation of the Federal Interagency Reentry Council, your launching the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention and your prosecution of a record number of hate crimes in 2011 and 2012. We certainly hope that this type of leadership is appreciated by all members of Congress, regardless of political affiliation, and you are joined by members of all parties in your pursuit of a more perfected union.

Mr. President, it is evident that you have demonstrated a cendorsementommitment to pursue alternatives to the enforcement-only “War on Drugs” approach and address the increased incarceration rates for non-violent crimes. Your administration has moved in the right direction by committing increased funds to drug prevention and treatment programs and supporting state and local re-entry grants. We encourage you to continue your efforts to revamp the policies of the last 30 years that have seen the prison population skyrocket.

The greatest victims of the prison industrial complex are our nation’s children. Hundreds of thousands of children have lost a parent to long prison sentences for non-violent drug offenses, leaving these children to fend for themselves. Many of these children end up in the criminal justice system, which comes as no surprise as studies have shown the link between incarceration and broken families, juvenile delinquency, violence and poverty.

Mr. President, we are a coalition of concerned advocates that is ready to support you in more innovative criminal justice reform and implementing more alternatives to incarceration. As you set in motion research and policy to combat this societal crisis, this coalition is poised to help you make the transition successful. In 2010, the passage of the Fair Sentencing Act was a tremendous step in the right direction, and we appreciate how hard you worked on getting that done. Some of the initial policies we recommend is, under the Fair Sentencing Act, extend to all inmates who were subject to 100-to-1 crack-to-powder disparity a chance to have their sentences reduced to those that are more consistent with the magnitude of the offense. We ask your support for the principles of the Justice Safety Valve Act of 2013, which allows judges to set aside mandatory minimum sentences when they deem appropriate.

We ask that you form a panel to review requests for clemency that come to the Office of the Pardon Attorney. Well-publicized errors and omissions by this office have caused untold misery to thousands of people. Additionally, we want to applaud your staunch commitment to re-entry programs that are necessary to ensure that those who leave the system are able to become productive members of society as well as reliable husbands, fathers, mothers and wives. We certainly would like to help you achieve an increase in the number of these transition programs. Finally, we strongly urge you to support the Youth Prison Reduction through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support, and Education (Youth PROMISE) Act, a bill that brings much needed focus on violence and gang intervention and prevention work.

During your presidency you have made important steps and you now have the opportunity to leave a legacy by transforming our criminal justice system to an intervention and rehabilitation based model. Many of those impacted by the prison industrial complex are among your most loyal constituents. Your struggles as the child of a single mother allow you to identify with millions of children who long to be with their parents. We request the opportunity to meet with you to discuss these ideas further and empower our coalition to help you achieve your goals of reducing crime, lowering drug use, preventing juvenile incarceration and lowering recidivism rates. We stand with you, ready to do what is just for America.


Julian Bond
Dr. Benjamin Chavis
Major Neill Franklin, LEAP
Rev. Jesse Jackson
Benjamin Todd Jealous, NAACP
Avis Jones-Deweever, National Council of Negro Women
Maria Theresa Kumar, VotoLatino
Donna Leiberman, NYCLU
Margaret Moran, LULAC
Marc Morial, National Urban League
Ethan Nadelmann, Drug Policy Alliance
Rev. Al Sharpton, NAN
Rashad Robinson, Colors of Change
Anthony Romero, ACLU
Michael Skolnik
Julie Stewart, Families Against Mandatory Minimums
Susan Taylor
Dr. Boyce Watkins
Brent Wilkes, LULAC
Vanessa Williams, National Conference of Black Mayors
Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Hip-Hop Caucus


La La Anthony
Roseanne Barr
Russell Brand
Jim Carrey
Cedric The Entertainer
Margaret Cho
Affion Crockett
Rosario Dawson
Cameron Diaz
Mike Epps
Omar Epps
Jamie Foxx
Tyrese Gibson
Adrian Grenierhere u
Jon Hamm
Hill Harper
Woody Harrelson
Amber Heard
Dule Hill
Ron Howard
J Ivey
Terrence J
Eugene Jarecki
Kris Jenner
Scarlett Johannson
Kim Kardashian
Khloe Kardashian-Odom
Kourtney Kardashian
Sanaa Lathan
LL Cool J
Nia Long
Eva Longoria
AnnaLynne McCord
Demi Moore
Michael Moore
Keya Morgan
Jay Pharaoh
Dominic Purcell
Tim Robbins
Chris Rock
Susan Sarandon
Sarah Silverman
Russell Simmons
Vanessa Simmons
Jada Pinkett Smith
Will Smith
Tika Sumpter
Gabrielle Union
Denise Vasi
Mark Walhberg
Estella Warren
Kerry Washington
Pauletta Washington
Marlon Wayans
Jesse Williams
Jeffrey Wright

Tyson Beckford
Selita Ebanks
Kenza Fourati
Kimora Lee Simmons
Veronika Verekova

Eric Benet
Andre “3000″ Benjamin
Big Boi of Outkast
Charlamagne tha God
Sean “Diddy” Combs
Chuck D
DJ Envy
DJ Pauly D
Ani Difranco
Jermaine Dupri
Missy Elliot
Jason Flom
John Forte
Ghostface Killah
Keri Hilson
Jennifer Hudson
Luke James
Trinidad James
Lyfe Jennings
Jim Jones
Talib Kweli
John Legend
Ryan Leslie
Joanna “JoJo” Levesque
Kevin Liles
Lil Wayne
Natalie Maines
Angie Martinez
Nicki Minaj
Busta Rhymes
Steve Rifkind
Samantha Ronson
Rick Ross
Katrina “Trina” Taylor
Teyana Taylor
Angela Yee


Sir Richard Branson
Ron Busby, US Black Chamber of Commerce
Daymond John
Minyon Moore
Chip Rosenbloom, Owner St. Louis Rams
Bobby Shriver


Congressman Tony Cardenas
Congressman Keith Ellison
Congresswoman Marcia Fudge
Congresswoman Barbara Lee
Congressman Bobby Rush
Congressman Bobby Scott


Brendon Ayanbadejo
Allan Houston
Isareal Idonije
Lamar Odom
Etan Thomas
Isiah Thomas
Mike Tyson


Bishop James Clark
Bishop Noel Jones
Bishop Clarence Laney
Bishop Edgar Vann
Dr. Iva Carruthers
Deepak Chopra
Father Michael Pfleger
Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Rabbi Nina Mandel
Rev. Jamal Bryant
Rev. Delman Coates
Rev. Leah D. Daughtry
Rev. Dr. Fredrick Haynes
Rev. Michael McBride
Rev. Dr. W Franklyn Richardson




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