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Google Brings Attention to Criminal Justice Reform With Love Letters Campaign

More than 2.7 million children in America have a parent behind bars.
Screen shot from the Father's Day edition of Google's digital #LoveLetters campaign.
Screen shot from the Father's Day edition of Google's digital #LoveLetters campaign.Google

This week, a new report by The Sentencing Project revealed the startling racial and ethnic disparities among the incarcerated; African Americans are incarcerated in state prisons across the country at more than five times the rate of whites, and at least ten times the rate in five states. The report also notes that in twelve states, more than half of the prison population is black.

But beyond the statistics, the men behind bars are more than just prisoners, many are also fathers.

And mass incarceration affects more than just those that are convicted; it leaves a mark on family members too. More than 2.7 million children in America have a parent behind bars.

With this framework in mind, Google has released a moving video entitled, “Love Letters to Incarcerated Fathers” to bring awareness to the fight for criminal justice reform.

In the video, children express their feelings to their fathers about what it's been like growing up while they are locked away. Each child shares memories along with their hopes of moments they will share together in the future.

In February of 2015, Google launched their "Love Letters Campaign" supporting Non-Governmental Organizations such as Place4Grace, The Osborne Association, In Arm’s Reach, Pops, Hour Children and Pain of the Prison System (POPS) clubs to help raise awareness about the “human cost” of mass incarceration.

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Malika Saada Saar, senior counsel of civil and human rights at Google, told NBCBLK that Love Letters was not another advertising campaign but a messaging movement.

"It is a messaging campaign because we are supporting the work of NGOs to elevate the voices of children of the incarcerated," said Malika. "Too often their voices are left behind in contemplating the human costs of mass incarceration."

The minute-and-a-half long video encourages youth with incarcerated parents to write love letters to their fathers. The children in the video do not request material things from their fathers; they want their fathers to be there for graduation, play pick-up games of basketball and to make up for the years that have gone by since they were incarcerated.

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The Love Letters Campaign is a byproduct of Google’s movement for criminal justice reform.

David Drummond, the Vice President of Corporate Development, Alphabet, stated during a criminal justice forum that was held at Google New York earlier this week, "At Google, we like disruption and if there is a system worth disrupting, it's the criminal justice system."

Google is currently working with the California Department of Corrections to have the video played for the fathers behind bars throughout the entire state.

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