JAY-Z Calls for Prison Reform in Wake of Meek Mill's Sentencing
JAY-Z continues to fight for Meek Mill. After stopping a recent concert to speak out about Mill’s recent prison sentence, the Roc Nation boss addresses his artist’s legal battles in an op-ed for The New York Times.
Using the Philadelphia rapper’s experiences, JAY describes a bigger problem in the country in a piece titled “The Criminal Justice System Stalks Black People Like Meek Mill.”
“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,” he writes. “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. A person on probation can end up in jail over a technical violation like missing a curfew.”
Hov, who was once sentenced to three years of probation for the stabbing up Lance “Un” Rivera, went on to describe how people get “trapped in the criminal justice system.”
“The system treats them as a danger to society, consistently monitors and follows them for any minor infraction — with the goal of putting them back in prison,” he says, adding: “As of 2015, one-third of the 4.65 million Americans who were on some form of parole or probation were black. Black people are sent to prison for probation and parole violations at much higher rates than white people.”
As a call to action, JAY says that the country needs to fight for “Meek and everyone else unjustly sent to prison.” He also highlights and praises Color of Change for their work in pressuring the courts to reform the judicial system.
Legal issues have been a focus of JAY’s work in the past. In September of last year, he narrated The New York Times‘ short film, The War on Drugs Is an Epic Fail. In March, he released “TIME: The Kalief Browder Story,” about the justice system’s mistreatment of the late Kalief Browder.
This month, Meek was sentenced to 2-4 years in prison for probation violations after he was arrested for assault in St. Louis and reckless driving in New York. The rapper struck deals in both cases so the charges were dropped, but the judge ruled the arrests were enough to constitute violations.
Mill’s legal team is fighting the sentencing, claiming that the judge in the case, Judge Genece Brinkley, has behaved inappropriately. They have filed a a motion to remove her from the case and to end Mill’s solitary confinement. The FBI is also reportedly investigating the judge’s conduct.