Since news of Meek Mill’s sentencing broke on Nov. 6, JAY-Z unabashedly reacted from his Facebook account to sold-out arenas on his “4:44 Tour.” Now, the entertainment mogul increased his voice on the situation in the form of a call-to-action op-ed for the New York Times.
The “Moonlight” rapper highlighted the criminal justice system’s historic relationship with tacking defendants on parole or probation with red flags in the form of technical violations for minor missteps.
“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-Z writes. “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.”
From his upbringing in Brooklyn, New York, the TIME: The Kalief Browder Story executive producer shared that he’s seen cases like Meek’s happen far too often. “Instead of a second chance, probation ends up being a land mine, with a random misstep bringing consequences greater than the crime,” he continued. “A person on probation can end up in jail over a technical violation like missing a curfew.”
What led to Meek’s return to prison stemmed from the dismissal of two incidents. Near the top of this year, he was detained for being involved in a St. Louis airport scuffle, which he was cleared once video evidence surfaced. In August, the NYPD arrested the 30-year-old again for reckless endangerment. On the set of a music video, he was seen popping wheelies on a motorbike. Judge Genece Brinkley also claims Meek failed a drug test. The district attorney threw out both cases, but against his probation officer and the D.A.’s no jail time recommendation, Brinkley still sentenced the “Amen” rapper to two to four years in prison.