Rapper Meek Mill Released from Jail, Sheds Light on Legal System
Rapper Meek Mill said Wednesday that now that he’s out of prison, a lot of people facing similar battles with the criminal justice system are depending on him to shed light on their plight.
“I got a lot of responsibility,” he said in an interview with Lester Holt of the “NBC Nightly News”. Though the full interview is airing as an upcoming “Dateline” NBC special, a sneak preview of their talk aired on”NBC Nightly News”.
He said the men counting on him are “going through the same thing I’m going through.”
Mill was released Tuesday after the state Supreme Court directed a Philadelphia judge who had jailed him to immediately issue an order letting him out.
“I ain’t feel free since I caught this case at age of 19—I’m 30 now,” Mill told Lester Holt.
In November, Meek Mill was sentenced to two to four years in prison for violating probation on a nearly decade-old gun and drug case. Judge Genece Brinkley, who sentenced the rapper for the probation violation, said he wasted several chances to clean up his act after the 2009 case.
The sentence came against the recommendation of the prosecutor who said Meek Mill had matured since his original crime. Brinkley said the prosecutor did not know the case as well as she did and cited that the rapper just “does what he wants.”
Demonstrators took to the streets at the time to protest. An all-out battle by a team of lawyers and public relations consultants were determined to get him released on bail, fiercely criticizing the judge. Several high-profile figures and celebrities voiced public support for Mill, including Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and rapper Jay-Z.
“Although I’m blessed to have the resources to fight this unjust situation, I understand that many people of color across the country don’t have that luxury and I plan to use my platform to shine a light on those issues,” Mill said in a statement shortly before his release.
He said he planned to focus on getting his convictions overturned, and that he looks forward to resuming his music career.
Mill’s case has been viewed by some as an example of a corrupt and inefficient legal system.
“He will be able to use that platform to really shine a light on how corrupt this system is and hopefully also keep this younger generation from going through this,” said comedian Kevin Hart, who visited Mill in jail. “And also, a lot of people that are incarcerated now that are doing unnecessary time.”
Rapper Jay-Z wrote an op-ed in the New York Times in November and called the rapper’s sentence “just one example of how our criminal justice system entraps and harasses hundreds of thousands of black people every day.”
“[Meek Mills has been] stalked by a system that considers the slightest infraction a justification for locking him back inside,” Jay-Z wrote, saying that when he was growing up in Brooklyn in the 1970s and 1980s, he saw how probation was a “landmine” for many. He pointed out that a “random misstep” could bring consequences greater than the crime.
“A person on probation can end up in jail over a technical violation like missing a curfew,” said Jay-Z. He pointed out, “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.”
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