It takes a lot to get Jay-Z to write something; the man famously doesn’t even write down his own lyrics before recording them. But Jay has recently been dealing with the imprisonment of his friend and peer Meek Mill. Meek, the Philadelphia rap star, was recently sent to prison for 2-4 years on a probation violation. The violation came after a couple of arrests, for which charges were dropped. Meek’s lawyers have reported some wildly inappropriate behavior on the judge’s part, and the FBI is investigating the case. Jay has released a statement supporting Meek and recently stopped a Dallas show to talk about Meek’s case. And now Jay has written a New York Times op-ed to talk about the case and the larger issue of the probation system.
In his piece, Jay writes about the specifics of Meek’s case, though he doesn’t get into any of the absurdity with the judge. He makes the case that Meek is still, more than a decade later, facing draconian consequences for a prison term that he served when he was 19. And writes about how Meek’s case highlights the larger problem of a system that rarely lets black offenders off the hook, even after they’ve served out their sentences. Here’s an excerpt:
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. I saw this up close when I was growing up in Brooklyn during the 1970s and 1980s. 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.
Taxpayers in Philadelphia, Meek Mill’s hometown, will have to spend tens of thousands of dollars each year to keep him locked up, and I bet none of them would tell you his imprisonment is helping to keep them safer. He’s there because of arrests for a parole violation, and because a judge overruled recommendations by a prosecutor and his probation officer that he doesn’t deserve more jail time.
You can, and should, read the entire piece here.