In partnership with the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) and REPRESENT JUSTICE, PLUS ONE society produced Play For Justice in the 2019-2020 NBA season with the Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings, Milwaukee Bucks, and Cleveland Cavaliers.
Due to the pandemic the program was put on pause, along with the rest of the world, March 2020. After 18-months, Play for Justice 2.0 kicked off with the Indiana Pacers players, coaches and leadership at Putnamville Correctional Facility on Oct. 15, 2021.
The program consisted of a heart provoking roundtable conversation and a basketball game where Pacers players coached two teams of prison residents. The Last Mile, a nonprofit which teaches technology and business training in the facility, served as the community partner along with ARC.
The Pacers organization (from the coaches/players to owner Steve Simon) were not only physically present but showed up with a mindset focused on leveraging their platform to make a positive impact on the criminal justice system. “I think today was important for me and my teammates, ” Pacers player Malcolm Brogdon said. “To come here and see people in these situations, who’ve made mistakes but are trying to do something better.”
The program brings together players, policy influencers and community organizations to uplift narratives of hope and redemption and break down stigmas associated with individuals — disproportionately people of color and the poor — who are impacted by the justice system. The involvement of policy makers like Indiana Lt. Gov. Susan Crouch and Rob Carter, Commissioner of Indiana Department of Correction, are critical to effecting equitable policy reform through empathy derived from this amazing human experience.
“The criminal-justice system is, obviously, the sole source of racial tension in this country [USA] or the key institution to resolving the opportunity gap. It is a part of the broader set of challenges that we face in creating a more perfect union.”