Jay-Z takes on criminal justice reform in wake of Meek Mill sentence
Jay-Z is speaking out about what he views as the criminal justice system “stalking” black people.
The hip hop mogul wrote an opinion piece for The New York Times that published Friday in which he took up the fight for justice regarding rapper Meek Mill.
Mill was recently sentenced to two to four years in prison as a result of violating his probation from a 2008 gun and drug case after he was arrested earlier this year for popping wheelies on his dirt bike and getting into a fight.
The case has sparked outrage, not only among the hip hop community and fans, but also from activists such as Colin Kaepernick.
“What’s happening to Meek Mill is just one example of how our criminal justice system entraps and harasses hundreds of thousands of black people every day,” Jay-Z wrote.
“I saw this up close when I was growing up in Brooklyn during the 1970s and 1980s,” he wrote. “Instead of a second chance, probation ends up being a land mine, with a random misstep bringing consequences greater than the crime. A person on probation can end up in jail over a technical violation like missing a curfew.”
The rapper has been one of the most outspoken proponents for Mill, posting about the case on social media and pausing his recent concert in Dallas to speak about it.
He sees it as a bigger issue than just Mill’s sentence.
“The specifics of Meek’s case inspired me to write this,” Jay-Z wrote. “But it’s time we highlight the random ways people trapped in the criminal justice system are punished every day. The system treats them as a danger to society, consistently monitors and follows them for any minor infraction — with the goal of putting them back in prison.”
According to Jay-Z, “as of 2015, one-third of the 4.65 million Americans who were on some form of parole or probation were black. Black people are sent to prison for probation and parole violations at much higher rates than white people.”
The rapper pointed out how rehabilitating the system could affect Mill’s hometown of Philadelphia, where crowds recently rallied in support of Mill.
“About half of the people in city jails in Philadelphia are there for probation or parole violations,” Jay-Z wrote. “We could literally shut down jails if we treated people on parole or probation more fairly.”