The american penal system is far from perfect and needs to be changed for the better.
Hip hop artist Meek Mill has become an advocate for criminal justice reform after his release from prison earlier this year. In 2008, an 18-year-old Mill was caught carrying a gun while shopping in a Philadelphia grocery store. He was later convicted and spent eight months in prison. Mill’s probation was originally set to last only five years.
But the rapper’s legal issues were far from over.
During 2014, Mill violated his probation by booking shows outside of Philadelphia without the approval of a Judge.
Mill was sentenced to three to six months in prison for this violation and was released in December 2014.
Mill then violated his parole during 2016 when he traveled outside Philadelphia without permission from a judge yet again. Instead of doing prison time, He was placed on house arrest for 90 days.
A year later, Mill was arrested and sentenced to two to four years in a state prison after he posted a video showing him popping a wheelie on the streets of New York City with his motorcycle which supposedly violated his probation. Legal officials obtained the video from his Instagram profile and charged him with reckless endangerment and reckless driving.
Fans of Mill began hashtags on twitter like #FREEMEEKMILL to show their support for the rapper. A Pennsylvania Supreme court granted him early release on bail during April of this year.
During an interview on “The Ellen Show,” Mill said he’s been on probation since he was 19 years old. He believes the criminal justice system is broken and needs to be changed for the sake of all americans — especially African Americans.
According to Wixstatic.com, a website connected to Mill’s criminal justice reform campaign, African Americans are incarcerated at five times the rate of caucasians. The website also notes that 21 percent of the U.S. population is behind bars.
The current criminal justice system treats individuals unfairly, especially after they are released from prison. In the U.S., a person with a criminal record can have their right to vote in an election stripped from them.
To regain this right, one would have to present their case before a criminal justice board and convince them to restore it. If denied, the only solution is to present to the board again in hopes of a different outcome.
“They are still citizens. They are still people, and they still have rights,” Plattsburgh State Associate Professor of Criminal Justice Breea Willingham said. “I think it’s unconstitutional to deny people the right to vote because of a conviction.”
Disenfranchisement is only one example of how the criminal justice system traps those with a criminal history. Mill has been a victim of the system’s abuse since his first arrest in 2008. It’s obvious that he is the perfect person to lead the campaign for criminal justice reform. I hope he is successful in liberating poor souls from the cold grasp of our system.