Jay-Z and Meek Mill are doing their part to help men and women behind bars in light of the coronavirus pandemic that is sweeping the globe.
On Friday (April 3), the REFORM Alliance announced that co-founders Jay-Z, Meek Mill, Robert Kraft, Michael Rubin and more are joining forces with author Shaka Senghor to send nearly 100,000 surgical masks to prisons across the country to assist inmates amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Rikers Island in New York City, which has had a spike in confirmed cases with 231 inmates and 223 staff members testing positive as of this week, will receive 50,000 masks and another 2,500 are being sent to Rikers’ medical facility.
The Tennessee Department of Corrections will be given 40,000 masks to be distributed to various facilities throughout the state while the Mississippi State Penitentiary is set to receive 5,000 masks.
“During these moments of uncertainty, the one thing I am certain of, is that we can share resources with the less fortunate,” shares Shaka Senghor, The New York Times bestselling author of Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison. “These are mothers, fathers, sons and daughters behind bars. They are as much a part of the human family as we are.”
REFORM Alliance CEO Van Jones expresses how grave the situation is as incarcerated men and women, correctional officers and facilities staff are increasingly testing positive for COVID-19. "Governors and people who run jails and prisons in this country need to take the pandemic in Rikers as a warning,” Jones says. “We're in danger of seeing prisons coast-to-coast turn into morgues. It is important to get medical supplies in, and it is equally important to get more human beings out. REFORM Alliance is working on both."
The prison system, like many hospitals, healthcare workers, companies and citizens around the world, have been impacted by a global shortage of masks and other protective gear in the wake of COVID-19.
“We are on the verge of a humanitarian crisis,” says Jessica Jackson, Chief Advocacy Officer at REFORM Alliance. “There are heartbreaking accounts coming from people in jails and prisons across the country. Also, let’s not forget: tens of thousands of sick people flooding out of our prisons could overwhelm our hospitals—making things worse for everyone. REFORM Alliance is pushing Governors across the country to enact our SAFER Plan recommendations to get people out quickly and safely. We are also working to help to get medical supplies into correctional facilities for those still inside. Please help us at REFORMAlliance.com.”
Earlier this week, Jay-Z and Rihanna announced that their Shawn Carter Foundation and Clara Lionel Foundation, respectively, would be donating $2 million collectively to aid coronavirus response efforts.
Several other hip-hop superstars are also stepping up during this global health crisis. Future's FreeWishes Foundation in partnership with Atlanta Sewing Style are providing masks for healthcare workers and patients dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak. DJ Khaled is also helping those on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic by donating 10,000 masks to healthcare workers in Miami and New York and Quavo launched a fundraiser on his 29th birthday to provide health care professionals at hospitals in Los Angeles and Atlanta with protective personal equipment.
See 20 of the Biggest First-Week Hip-Hop Album Sales Over the Years