NFL Players Coalition and Malcolm Jenkins Plan To Make Biggest Move Yet For Criminal Justice Reform

By: Ryan Velez

The newfound focus on the NFL between the season starting and Colin Kaepernick’s Nike deal makes the perfect time for other players to try and use their platforms to try and effect positive social change. ESPN reports that Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Long  =and other members of the Players Coalition are striking while the iron is hot, putting together their most ambitious plan to date.

Some initial details were unveiled Sunday night as more than 30 of Philadelphia’s most prominent leaders and elected officials, including District Attorney Larry Krasner, met with the players in South Philadelphia to discuss how to help support their vision.

Jenkins started the conversation by mentioning that the Coalition is organizing a large event slated for later in the fall in Philadelphia, which will be centered around assisting those making the transition from prison to civilian life. This is going to be accomplished with a variety of social services, including providing job training, clothing, and an actual job fair to try and lower recidivism locally. Should this be successful, there are plans to expand this beyond Philadelphia to other cities.

However, there was more than this reason at play when it came to getting all these names together. There was also a shared goal of getting policymakers and influencers together to understand that all these people need to be connected to provide true criminal justice reform. “There’s a need for services, a need for employment as well as just support when you do get those people out of prison so they have what they need to be a contributing citizen,” Jenkins said. “With all of these complexities, we realize there are a ton of people that are doing this work in silos around the city. We’ve got allies all the way from the mayor down, Larry Krasner, and all of these employers who have jobs that need filling. Then you have this group of citizens that don’t have access to it. So how do we bridge that gap as one large collective?”

The Players Coalition was a group co-founded by Jenkins and Anquan Boldin to organize the different efforts of people around the league concerned with social injustice. One of their major areas of focus lately has been bail reform.

“And you see whenever somebody is sitting in jail, if you’re in jail it means you can’t work which means you lose your job,” Jenkins said. “You can’t watch your kids while you’re in jail. You’re likely to lose your kids. If you can’t work, you can’t pay rent. So, sitting in a jail cell just because you can’t afford to get out is costing people way more than whatever that bail is,” explained Reuben Jones, co-founder of the Philadelphia Community Bail Fund.

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