NFL Players Visit Congress to Push Criminal Justice Reforms

A handful of NFL players further proved the notion that professional athletes have political leverage by urging Congress to act on improving relations between law enforcement and minority communities on Thursday (Mar 30).

Led by Anquan Boldin, players Malcolm Jenkins, Johnson Bademosi, and Donte Stallworth took to Capitol Hill in their tailor made suits to use their voice to convince politicians to enact meaningful changes.

“The community I come from wants and needs to know that they are being heard,” Boldin said. “We want to make sure that you, that those in position to bring positive change, understand the things that we as an African-American community are going through.”

This is the second trip to Washington in the last five months for Boldin and Jenkins.

“Football is easier than doing this,” Jenkins said Tuesday in an interview with The Associated Press. “You’ve got to do the research, and you’ve got to come prepared. And when you’re speaking on behalf of other people, you want to make sure you bring the right voice to the table.”

The players are pushing to put an end to private prisons and doing away with mandatory minimum prison sentences that can put nonviolent offenders behind bars for lengthy terms. Jenkins and Boldin said there is too much focus on law-and-order solutions and not enough on preventing crimes before they happen.

“We all know that once you’re in the system, it’s hard to be a normal citizen,” Boldin told AP. “You get discriminated against with jobs, with housing.”

Boldin, who played for the Detroit Lions last season, said private prisons are a “huge problem” because the companies that operate them are often contractually assured a certain amount of inmate capacity. That can lead to an emphasis on incarceration.

“We feel like that’s one of the things that leads to quotas by police officers,” Boldin said.