3 things we learned from Meek Mill’s NYT op-ed on prison reform
The moment Meek Mill first sniffed the fresh air of freedom he vowed the fight the injustices that his resources privilege him to overcome.
In a statement to the New York Times upon being released on bail earlier this year, Meek said,
“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.”
The Philidelphia-native had been fighting a decade-old drug and guns conviction that placed him on probation for 10 years. During that stint, he was imprisoned at least four times, most recently in 2017 for breaking probation on a dirt bike charge.
Can you believe that? Meek Mill, popping a wheelie of all things, is what led to his sentencing of two to four years.
As Meek said, he benefitted from his celebrity. #FREEMEEK flooded social media for 169 days, Jay-Z wrote an op-ed in the Times in his defense; Meek even had a rally held for his freedom led by Philadelphia 76’s legend Dr. J. This is exactly why Meek Mill is paying it forward.
Like his big homie Jay-Z, Meek has penned an op-ed in the New York Times, making a case for systemic change in prison reform. The editorial, published Monday, November, 26th, is his latest push to getting a real change made through the legislature.
Here are three key nuggets he touched on in the piece:
Meek maintains innocence
It’s important we must not forget that through all of this — the 10-year probation that led to a two-year prison sentence — all stemmed from a crime he did not commit. Meek writes in the Times piece,
“Like many who are currently incarcerated, I was the victim of a miscarriage of justice — carried out by an untruthful officer, as determined by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office, and an unfair judge.”
If you’re unfamiliar with the case, as Meek puts it, he was on his way to a corner store when cops stopped him and “beat the shit” out of him. He said,
“[I had] a concussion, stitches, braids ripped out. My blood was on the ceiling, on the floor.”
Philadelphia cops said he tried to shoot them. Meek denies the claims to this day, he tells Billboard in a 2015 interview. A decade-old charge put a grown man with kids in prison, and that’s when it hit Meek that this is an injustice that this country has to correct.
“The ordeal cost me my most precious commodity: my freedom. I served five months.”
He’s an anomaly
Meek wants it to be understood that his freedom is the exception — not the rule — and in the piece, he’s stringent on breaking normalization of his case being that the larger problem is still at bay. He continued,
“I know I’m the exception to the rule — a lucky one. It’s clearer than ever that a disproportionate number of men and women of color are treated unfairly by a broken criminal justice system. The system causes a vicious cycle, feeding upon itself.”
Since his release Meek has been advocating against this very cycle, making an appearance on CNN, The Tonight Show, The View, and hosted a justice reform summit all preaching the same message of prison reform.
In Meek’s eyes, the more people know and understand just how wrong these convictions and charges are, maybe someone will become emboldened enough to join the fight.
There are things we can do to help
What’s dope about the op-ed is that Meek Mill offers solutions as well as presenting the problem.
Meek urges that it’s imperative to get the voices and faces behind these stories heard, which is what he plans on doing with his platform. Furthermore, he urges us to push our politicians to commit to change. Meek stresses,
“We all need to hold our lawmakers accountable for supporting unfair or inhumane policies and all practices that perpetuate injustice, especially for the blacks and Latinos who fall prey to them most frequently.”
He also offers a donation link to the foundation he started in aims of establishing, “stronger prison rehabilitation programs, updated probation policies — including shortened probationary periods — an improved bail system and balanced sentencing structures.”
The midterms have passed but now more than ever is it imperative to pressure the newly seated Congress on their positions on prison reform.
Although Congress passed the First Step Act in May — which gave funding to prison reform, some senior Democrats, like Dick Durbin of Illinois, Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Kamala Harris of California, stated in a letter opposing the bill, that the legislation is actually “a step backward and that prison reform would fail if Congress did not simultaneously overhaul the nation’s sentencing laws.”
There is still work to be done and the First Step act is barely even that. Meek concluded the op-ed by highlighting some of the prevalent and immediately solvable issues with the prison system.
“Right now model probationers can be immediately put back behind bars for missing curfew, testing positive for marijuana, failing to pay fines on time or, in some cases, not following protocol when changing addresses. Our lawmakers can and should do away with these ‘technical violations.'”
Meek is receiving additional help from Jay-Z who has shown his own independent interest in prison reform. After producing the powerful documentary on the Kalief Browder story, he has decided to produced a seven-part series on Meek Mill‘s legal battles and racial bias in the criminal justice system.
Read the full op-ed on The New York Times