Common and Chance The Rapper are seeking parole reform in Illinois.
Both rappers are pushing for change in their home state, which doesn’t have discretionary parole. The two spoke alongside activists from the nonprofit Parole Illinois at a press conference outside Cook County Jail on Wednesday.
Common and Chance The Rapper are specifically advocating for Senate Bill 2333 to be passed by Illinois legislators. The bill would amend state law to allow people to be eligible for parole after serving at least 20 years behind bars.
“SB 2333 is a necessary policy that will begin to correct the harms of long-term incarceration in this state and putting an end to negative impacts that incarceration has on our community, family members and the loved ones of those who are incarcerated,” Chance The Rapper said, according to Block Club Chicago. “We need a criminal justice system that reflects the values we want to see in this world.”
He added, “We need to start pushing and transforming our criminal justice system in sentencing laws. With this reality in mind, that means pushing for policies like parole.”
At the presser, Common shared a story about reconnecting with someone from his youth who was serving a life sentence. The veteran rapper mentioned the man as an example of why parole is needed in Illinois.
“He said … ’It’s people like me that are dealing with mental sickness and dealing with mental pain that can change and transform,’” Common recalled. “It really struck me because I knew this brother, and I knew what he used to be. I knew who he was then. I’ve met some of the most enlightened and inspiring people in prison.
Illinois legislators are expected to vote on Senate Bill 2333 in the next two weeks. If Common and Chance The Rapper get their wish, the state will have discretionary parole for the first time since 1978.