Rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z has reportedly made a $3 million investment in Promise, a startup company that helps state and local governments track parolees with GPS technology – and a lot of people, even some of his fans, are not happy about it.
The Promise is a start-up company that aims to help decarcerate the incarcerated – mostly for non-violent or misdemeanor offenses – who can’t afford bail. Earlier this year, the company raised about $3 million with the help of Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, 8VC, and Kapor Capital.
Jay-Z, who has been open about his stand in criminal justice reform, said the injustices in the system is increasingly alarming. “Money, time and lives are wasted with the current policies,” he wrote in a statement. “It’s time for an innovative and progressive technology that offers sustainable solutions to tough problems. Promise’s team, led by co-founder and CEO Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, is building an app that can help provide ‘liberty and justice for all’ to millions.”
However, Sandra Rose reveals that Promise doesn’t actually use their funds to bail detainees out of jail. Instead, Promise sells smartphone apps to government agencies that they could use in replacement of ankle monitoring devices to track parolees who are discharged from jail under the First Step Act. The report described it an “incarceration alternative” that ensures parolees appear in court or take a urine drug test.
Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, co-founder of the company, recently replied to someone on Twitter who accused the company of producing ankle monitoring bracelets and profiting from it. She claimed that they “do not make, provide or sell electronic monitoring.”
But she did state that the government is paying their company to track parolees who wear ankle monitoring devices and provide progress reports. This, she says, is a better alternative than having the county spend money to incarcerate parolees that can’t afford bail.