Following his recent release from prison, Philadelphia Papper Meek Mill is now engaged with criminal justice reform. He joined Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Philly city officials to campaign for changes in criminal justice policies. Mill is using both his celebrity status and newfound freedom to bring about changes.
Mills and top state officials convened at the National Constitution Center to make it abundantly clear they wanted changes, and they want them now.
Meek Mill, 30, was set free by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court last month after about six months in prison. He was sentenced to 2-4 years in prison for violating his probation for 2007 drug and gun charges.
Mill’s incarceration generated massive public support, and Gov. Wolf disclosed the national attention the rapper’s case attracted should work for proven criminal reform changes.
Justice Reform: What Is the Cash Bail System?
Gov. Wolf and campaigners want everything in the criminal justice system to be completely reformed. This would include, but not limited to:
- Rethinking mass incarceration so that minor offenders are not jailed but given alternative punishments
- Reworking probation and parole policies
There could even be a cash bail system where minor offenders are made to pay substantial fines instead of doing prison time.
Gov. Wolf requested legislators in the State of Pennsylvania to pass three bills targeted at giving light sentences to non-violent offenders. These bills will make it possible for:
- Minor offenders to be checked into substance abuse programs
- The government to allocate more money into parole and probation programs
The whole essence of the bills is offender rehabilitation and victim protection, Wolf said.
When it comes to the Cash Bail System, many see this as unfair punishment to non-celebrities and the underprivileged. It is very rare that a defendant with limited financial resources would have the ability to pay cash for bail.
Meek Mill: “I Always Feel Like My Freedom Can Be Taken”
Wolf added that the state must look into a situation where former inmates find it difficult to get reintegrated into the society. He said the endless cycle of mass incarceration must be broken so families are given changes to grow together.
Meek Mill, now signed into Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label Chips In, says the government must protect the freedom of everyone. He refers to situations where a parolees or people on probation could be sent back to prisons for a minor violations that don’t hold water:
“I always feel like my freedom can be taken. I can walk outside, somebody can accuse me of something and I can end up right back in prison in the blink of an eye.”
Mill referenced the case of two black men who were picked up by the police while waiting at a Rittenhouse Square Starbucks in April. He wondered why anyone should be arrested in Starbucks for being Black, or for just waiting for someone.
#JusticeReform: Meek Mill’s Dreams & Nightmares
Catch the Rapper Meek Mill on a Dateline Special
Meek Mill plans to do things differently after this prison release. He’s putting his focus on prison reform… specifically the way probation and parole offices handle non-violent violations. Meek told Dateline in his first sit-down, in-depth interview since his prison release:
“I had eight years of probation that turned to 16 years of probation,” Mill says in his first in-depth sit-down interview. “Something is not working.”
Catch this episiode of Dateline for a glimpse at the upcoming life of famous prisoner Meek Mill on NBC Sunday at 7 Eastern Time.