Jay-Z and Meek Mill have continually used their platforms to spread awareness about criminal justice reform. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the hip-hop greats are on a mission to stop the spread of the virus within correctional facilities, Billboard reported.
Through the REFORM Alliance—an organization the two founded along with other criminal justice advocates to address injustices surrounding probation, parole and the system at large—they have donated 130,000 surgical masks to prisons and jails to ensure the safety of inmates, correctional officers and other staff members as well as healthcare workers. Rikers Island in New York received 52,500 masks for its inmate facilities, including its medical center. The Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman received 5,000 masks and the Tennessee Department of Corrections was given 40,000. Over 30,000 masks were distributed among prisons in South Carolina.
“COVID-19 spreads most quickly in crowded and closed environments, and our jails and prisons are at high risk for an outbreak,” read a statement on the organization’s website. “This is a huge threat to public health. Right now, hardly any government officials have a plan to address this crisis. REFORM does.”
The coronavirus is ravaging prisons and jails throughout the country. According to CBS News, hundreds of inmates and staff members at New York City jails have tested positive for the virus. Politico reported the federal prison system is working on broadening the criteria to have eligible inmates be transferred into home confinement to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The Bureau of Prisons is reportedly allowing inmates who haven’t completed half of their sentences to be considered for early release program eligibility.