In partnership with Anti-Recidivism Coalition and REPRESENT JUSTICE, PLUS ONE society produced Play For Justice, a series of basketball games and intimate roundtable discussions that highlight stories of hope, redemption and the power of sports and community inside prison facilities across the United States. The games and discussions include currently incarcerated men and women, REPRESENT JUSTICE Surrogates, and current and former NBA and WNBA players. In select prison facilities, family members are able to attend and watch the game in addition to celebrity guests, elected officials, media and other residents of the prison facility. Thus far, we’ve facilitated games with the Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings, Milwaukee Bucks and Cleveland Cavaliers, among other teams.

Play for Justice is a partnership between NBA teams and Represent Justice, a nonprofit which uses narrative change to create public demand for a more fair legal system and dignity for those impacted by it and is produced by PLUS ONE society. It 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.

In the last year, we worked closely with the NBA to produce programs with the Sacramento Kings, Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers, and Cleveland Cavaliers, with more scheduled and postponed due to Covid-19. At these events, players, coaches and staff participated in frank roundtable discussions and basketball games with currently incarcerated individuals. Play for Justice creates unforgettable moments that allow the valuable perspective of currently incarcerated individuals to be seen and heard by teams of professional athletes.

In addition to bringing policy influencers and cultural influencers closer to issues of justice, Play for Justice is a day where the prison walls melted away. The immersive production includes personalized jerseys, sneakers, snacks, dance crews, half-time shows, DJs, in-game activities, families and more. Through this partnership with NBA teams, we highlight the stories of system-impacted men and women that are in line with Represent Justice values (e.g. redemption, mercy and second chances.). This in-prison programming creates an environment for community partners, politicians and cultural influencers to connect and engage directly with the people affected by the system, who have the greatest potential to change hearts, minds and ultimately, policy.

We also create an opportunity to capture and share this experience for the public in a way that humanizes incarcerated people through in-depth interviews, roundtable discussions and the game. The Play for Justice campaign looks to shine a light on the issues with our criminal justice system, including mass incarceration and wrongful sentencing. In addition, the campaign hopes to change policies and shift the narrative around incarceration in the United States.  

“ Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

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