Last week, Mill was sentenced to two to four years behind bars by a Philadelphia probation judge, charged with violating his probation after a 2009 drug and gun case. JAY-Z penned an op-ed for The New York Times on Friday, making an impassioned case for what the 4:44 rapper sees as deep flaws and racial inequities with the probation process in the American justice system.
"Meek was around 19 when he was convicted on charges relating to drug and gun possession, and he served an eight-month sentence," the 47-year-old rapper points out. "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."
"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 adds. "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."
JAY-Z goes on to illustrate why he, and many others who have taken to using the #FreeMeek hashtag on social media, feel his probation sentencing is particularly egregious.
"Look at what he’s being punished for now: In March, he was arrested after an altercation in a St. Louis airport. After video of what had actually happened was released, all charges were dropped against Meek," JAY-Z explains. "In August, he was arrested for popping a wheelie on a motorcycle on his video set in New York. Those charges were dismissed after he agreed to attend traffic school."
"Think about that. The charges were either dropped or dismissed, but the judge sent him to prison anyway," he adds.
"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," JAY-Z concludes. "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."