Russel Simmons has just stepped up as the executive producer of a television ad, brought to us by Californians for Safety and Justice organization. The ad highlights the dangerous effects of state funding for prisons over schools, and the message this sends our children. The ad is part of their public education ad, #SchoolsNot Prisons, based on recent studies that suggest going to prison, or having parents in prison, is considered the norm for many Californian children. Of course, this is not the message we want to send out children.
The ad warns that while the state has created 22 new prisons since 1984, in that same time only one university has been created. It asks California to consider what kind of future they are investing in for their children.
Russel passionately launched the ad through The Huffington Post, accompanying it with a heartfelt letter entitled, “Never Once Have I Imagined My Daughters Ever Going To Prison”. The letter explains how his girls, living in California, are especially privileged, but that as a family they are always aware that a few blocks away, the story is not the same. He explained:
Never once have I imagined either of my daughters ever going to prison. Never have I had the image in my head of my children getting finger-printed, photographed and processed by police officers at the local precinct. Never have I imagined Aoki or Ming in an orange jumpsuit walking through intake at LA County Jail. This is not their reality. This is not in their cards. This is not the eventual outcome of their dream deferred.
I moved to California about a year and half ago to be closer to my two beautiful daughters. As they got older, I wanted to be part of their lives every day, and being on the other side of the country just wasn’t working. I know that these two girls are blessed….
For far too many children who live just a few miles away from where my daughters are being raised in Los Angeles, going to prison is a norm. And this standard is sadly reinforced by the investment, or lack thereof, of our taxes in their future. In the state of California, we now spend $62,300 per prison inmate per year while only $9,200 to educate a child in a K-12 school.
Russell followed up the divulging of this scary statistic with a call to action, stating: “It’s time for us all to stand up.”
Californians for Safety and Justice is a not-for-profit organization that seeks to replace “replace prison and justice system waste with common sense solutions”, to provide the next generation with a better tomorrow. For more information on their cause and to find out how you can support it, visit www.safeandjust.org.