Easter is symbolic of resurrection and renewal and in honor of the holiday, two hip-hop artists and a Georgia-based church joined forces to give nonviolent offenders an opportunity for a fresh start. Rappers T.I. and Scrapp Deleon teamed up with the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church to bail out individuals in time for Easter, The Hill Reported.
Through the initiative—dubbed the “Bail Out” program—they were able to raise nearly $120,000 to bail out nearly 20 men and women who were jailed for nonviolent crimes in Rockdale, DeKalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett. The initiative started out as a grassroots effort led by the church, but after the rappers got involved the project grew. Those who were bailed out through the program will be able to take advantage of job training resources. They will also be required to meet with mentors on a weekly basis to ensure that they stay on the right track. Some of the funds raised will go towards the college education of the children of individuals who were bailed out.
“I looked at what was happening in the prison pipeline and realized that the church voice had been muted on the issue of prison reform,” Pastor Dr. Jamal Bryant, who leads the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a statement. “I realized that we needed to be part of what was taking place.”
The initiative has proved to be nothing short of impactful. Those who were bailed out through the program say they are thankful to have a fresh slate. “For people to just reach out, willing to help out of the blue, them not knowing you from nobody…that’s a blessing,” Tyron Pollard, who participated in the program, said in a statement. “I was doing drugs before I got locked up … but I don’t want to do nothing but do right and strive to be a model citizen for my kids.”
Several hip-hop stars are using their platform to spread awareness about criminal justice reform. Philadelphia-bred rapper Meek Mill recently teamed up with lawmakers to propose a probation and parole reform bill.