Dealflow | March 24, 2018

Jay-Z and Kapor Capital join $3 million financing of “de-carceration” startup Promise

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On any given day more than 450,000 people, innocent until proven guilty, are in jail awaiting trial in the US. Those that face nonviolent charges but can’t afford bail are disproportionately black and Latino.

Promise, based in Oakland, California, offers an alternative to the current bail system. It is in talks with local government to use its platform, which works with defendants to be sure they appear at court dates, undergo drug testing and treatments, get to classes and meet other obligations.

“We can’t fix our broken criminal justice system until we take on the exploitative bail industry,” writes musician and producer Jay-Z, whose Roc Nation joined First Round Capital, Kapor Capital, and 8VC to invest in the Y Combinator startup. Promise charges towns and counties as little as $17 per person per day, compared to $85 or more per day for jail time.

Other startups, including Pigeonly andEdovo, are tackling family connectivity and education for incarcerated individuals.