Published Nov 17, 2017Not long after Meek Mill was sentenced to two to four years in state prison following a probation violation earlier this month, JAY-Z took time out of a tour stop in Dallas to address the decision from the stage. Now, he's written an opinion piece about Meek's case and the criminal justice system at large.
In the op-ed for the New York Times, JAY-Z writes that "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."
JAY-Z wrote, "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. 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."
He continued: "The specifics of Meek's case inspired me to write this. But it's time we highlight the random ways people trapped in the criminal justice system are punished every day. 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."
JAY-Z noted that "as of 2015, one-third of the 4.65 million Americans who were on some form of parole or probation were black," while in Meek's home of Philadelphia, "half of the people in city jails...are there for probation or parole violations."
You can read his complete op-ed here.
Meek Mill, born Robert Williams, was sentenced to two to four years in state prison following a probation violation for a 2008 gun and drug conviction. The FBI is reportedly investigating the judge that handed down the sentencing on grounds of inappropriate conduct.