Meek Mill, Jay-Z, and others form a super team for criminal justice reform
Meek Mill’s re-brand is one for the ages. He did it in hip-hop by successfully evolving from a battle rapper into a bonified rap star. In his personal life, he shifted the public’s perception and won them over after losing a rap beef to Drake.
It’s almost as if facing two to four years in prison for a petty dirt bike charge turned the tide for Meek. The 2017 citation violated a decade old probation. The charge came from a gun and drug possession case when he was a teenager.
He spent months in prison before a court ordered him released. In one instant everyone was laughing at him and in another, he was the people’s champ.
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Along with the tremendous support he’s received from fans, Meek has had the likes of Jay-Z, Robert Kraft, and other powerful names to move on his behalf and get him an early release.
Yesterday (Jan. 24) was the next stage in this journey as he, along with Jay-Z and the owners of the Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, and Super Bowl-bound New England Patriots, announced the launch of an organization that will lobby for changes to state probation and parole laws. Their coalition is called The Reform Alliance and will be led by Van Jones, a CNN host, activist, and former advisor to President Barack Obama.
If the names involved don’t convince you of how serious they are, the $50 million start-up that Sixers co-owner Michael Rubin says the group is dedicating should. They’re serious about making a real impact and they all believe they can.
In a news conference and presentation Wednesday at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, the co-founders outlined their purpose and goal, which includes removing one million people from the criminal justice system within five years.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft was among those who spoke. He said meeting Meek opened his eyes to an issue he otherwise wasn’t privy to. Kraft said,
“After meeting him in jail, I felt affection for him. We had developed a nice relationship. And I’ve never been to jail before. Going there and seeing him, I didn’t sleep for the rest of the night when I got home. Because here I’m thinking how out of touch something like myself is with what’s really going on.”
Kraft continued on saying,
“I decided then that I wanted to work with Michael and Meek to do whatever we could to try to change the system. It’s not good for America. And I’m happy I had the chance and the exposure to see it. It’s just crazy. I hope everyone in this room gets behind this effort, and we can make America better if we really deal with this problem,” Kraft continued.
Meek says the Reform initiative is one of the most important things he’s ever done in his life, adding that he’s speaking “for people who don’t have a voice.” He went on to say,
“If you thought my case was unfair, there are millions of others dealing with worse situations and caught up in the system without committing crimes. With this alliance, we want to change outdated laws, give people hope and reform a system that’s stacked against us.”
Meek is right, about 2.2 million people in the U.S. are incarcerated, and about 4.5 million are on probation or parole, according to government statistics.
Van Jones stresses that the Reform Alliance will break the cycle of probation and parole violations that plague this country and, with this team and backing, should make it easier. Jones said,
“That is the revolving door that keeps people back in and back in and back in. We’re going to dismantle that revolving door.”
This is what change looks like. This is what using your platform looks like. This is what working together looks like.
It’s good to see celebrities own more responsibility in tackling social issues. Kim Kardashian was a big part of getting Alice Marie Johnson clemency. Without Kim K. the 63-year-old woman would’ve served life in prison for a nonviolent drug conviction. Without Kardashian’s influence, Trump wouldn’t even have taken notice. Influence opens doors and this proves it.
After becoming accustomed to seeing celebrities in the news for the drama they bring, it’s nice to see some getting together to do something that will impact the common man. The battles are not over and resistance will surely come, but The Reform Alliance will help someone, and that’s a damn good start.