The story behind #SchoolsNotPrisons T-shirts a couple Patriots wore today

"Being a part of it was a no-brainer, to put it on today to help spread some light."

Duron Harmon Patriots
Patriots safety Duron Harmon wearing a T-shirt that read "#SchoolsNotPrisons" on the front and “Nearly 5,000 kids are in adult prisons and jails #SchoolsNotPrisons" on the back. –Ben Volin / Globe Staff

FOXBOROUGH — Patriots safeties Duron Harmon and Devin McCourty have been outspoken advocates for juvenile criminal reform throughout the past year, and used Wednesday’s training camp practice to bring attention to their cause.

After practice, each player took off his jersey to reveal a T-shirt underneath sporting the hashtag #SchoolsNotPrisons on the front. The back of the shirt read, “Nearly 5,000 kids are in adult prisons and jails #SchoolsNotPrisons.’’ Several other players around the league wore the same shirt, including the Eagles’ Malcolm Jenkins, the Saints’ Demario Davis, and the Panthers’ Torrey Smith.

The players are part of the Players Coalition that has been working with the NFL to address social causes in the wake of the national anthem controversy.

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“Being a part of it was a no-brainer, to put it on today to help spread some light,’’ Harmon said. “The school-to-prison pipeline is something that is all throughout this country. And we’re trying to decrease that tremendously, so we can get these young kids, instead of sending to juvenile detention centers and prison, send them to places where they can deal with their problems and understand that they don’t have to be that way and hopefully turn them to a new direction.’’

Harmon and McCourty have also advocated for criminal justice reform this offseason, hosting a town hall meeting in Dorchester with district attorney candidates and recently writing an op-ed about the need for more school funding in low-income areas.

Harmon said it is important to remind people that the players are focused on making positive changes to their communities, and not on protesting the issues during the national anthem.

“That’s why we all keep speaking on it, going to different events — just to show people it wasn’t just about protesting the anthem,’’ Harmon said. “It’s about unity, creating change in the community. Hopefully somebody takes something from it today with me just wearing the shirt.’’

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