Some of the country’s top sports and entertainment figures are teaming up to reform the nation’s justice system ... and Brooklyn is well represented.
One of the Nets co-owners and Brooklyn’s own Jay-Z have joined with rapper Meek Mill and the owners of the 76ers, Michael Rubin, and Patriots, Robert Kraft, to form the Reform Alliance, which will lobby to change state probation and parole laws around the country. Van Jones, an Obama White House official and CNN host, will be the group’s CEO.
The program, with a $50 million budget, was unveiled Wednesday.
Clara Wu Tsai — a philanthropic investor and wife of new Nets co-owner Joe Tsai — was heavily involved in putting the Reform Alliance together.
“Since my childhood days growing up in Lawrence, Kansas, I’ve become increasingly concerned about the issues in our country surrounding economic mobility,” said Clara Wu Tsai. “Over the years I’ve come to learn it’s very difficult to move the needle on economic mobility, particularly in urban areas like Brooklyn, without also addressing the problems latent within our criminal justice system.”
Jones said the Reform Alliance is taking aim at the cycle of probation and parole violations that leads people back to prison.
”That is the revolving door that keeps people back in and back in and back in,’’ Jones said. “We’re going to dismantle that revolving door.’’
Patriots owner Robert Kraft said the current system “is not good for America.’’
”We can make America better if we really cure this problem,’’ he said.
The Tsais have been increasingly active in the intellectual life of the city in recent years. The couple (who were married in New York) acquired a 49 percent stake in the Nets and engineered the purchase of the Liberty and are major donors to Lincoln Center and the Harlem Academy. The two have also funded major educational projects at their alma maters — the Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute at Stanford and the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale.