JAY-Z wrote a passionate essay about Meek Mill’s controversial prison sentence, calling not only for his release, but for reform of the criminal justice system. Read why he wants Meek freed, here.
The rap community has rallied around Meek Mill, 30, after an allegedly biased judge handed down to him a two-to-four year prison sentence for parole violation. Nobody has been more supportive of Meek than JAY-Z, 47, who signed the rapper to his Roc Nation label. Jay has now written an op-ed for The New York Times about the controversial prison sentence, and how it’s part of a much larger problem that affects the entire American prison system. “What’s happening to Meek Mill is just one example of how our criminal justice system entraps and harasses hundreds of thousands of black people every day,” Jay wrote. “I saw this up close when I was growing up in Brooklyn during the 1970s and 1980s.
“Instead of a second chance, probation ends up being a land mine, with a random misstep bringing consequences greater than the crime,” he wrote. “A person on probation can end up in jail over a technical violation like missing a curfew.” Meek was sentenced to prison time for two parole violations: an altercation at the St. Louis airport in March, and for popping a wheelie on a motorcycle in New York on the set of his music video. Charges were dismissed in both incidents. And yet, the judge still sent him to jail, despite the fact that his parole officer, and even the prosecutor, told her that he shouldn’t serve any time. The judge is reportedly being investigated by the FBI.
“On the surface, this may look like the story of yet another criminal rapper who didn’t smarten up and is back where he started,” Jay wrote. “But consider this: Meek was around 19 when he was convicted on charges relating to drug and gun possession, and he served an eight-month sentence. Now he’s 30, so he has been on probation for basically his entire adult life. For about a decade, he’s been stalked by a system that considers the slightest infraction a justification for locking him back inside…the specifics of Meek’s case inspired me to write this.”
Jay included statistics about parole violation, race, and jail time. One-third of the 4.65 million Americans on parole or probation, as of 2015, were black. Black people are generally sent to prison for probation or parole violations more than white people. In Philadelphia, where Meek is serving time, half of the people in city jails are there for those violations. “Probation is a trap and we must fight for Meek and everyone else unjustly sent to prison,” Jay concluded his essay.
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