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‘Help, not punishment’: John Legend lends his support to local advocates for criminal justice reform

By Katy Reckdahl, Special to The Advocate

Posted March 10, 2017 in News

Originally posted on The Advocate

Since Derrick Perique, 32, got out of prison, he’s been on a mission to help others see more clearly. On Saturday, though, he could have been forgiven if he had stars in his eyes.

Perique graduated with a degree in optician work from a small re-entry program at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. After his release in 2013, he worked hard, saved his money and partnered with an eyeglasses maker.

On Saturday, at the Perdido Street office of Rising Foundations, a New Orleans business incubator program for former convicts, Perique was able to show his small custom eyeglasses operation to singer-pianist John Legend, the multiple Grammy Award-winner who is headlining the halftime show of the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday.

Through his #FreeAmerica campaign to end mass incarceration, Legend has visited prisons and communities across the nation, meeting with activists and policymakers working for reform of the criminal justice system.

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