Rapper Meek Mill has called for sweeping changes to the criminal justice system in an essay published in the New York Times on Monday.
The "I'm A Boss" rapper spent five months in prison before his release in April, after lawmakers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania overturned a judge's decision to keep him locked up for violating his probation, linked to a 2008 drug and gun bust.
After petitioning for his freedom, with support from JAY-Z and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Mill, real name Robert Rihmeek Williams, pledged to use his position to campaign for prison reform. And in an emotional op-ed he called for change to the "broken" criminal justice system, which he insisted has been designed to fail African-Americans and Latinos.
“It’s clearer than ever that a disproportionate number of men and women of color are treated unfairly by a broken criminal justice system,” Mill wrote. “The system causes a vicious cycle, feeding upon itself - sons and daughters grow up with their parents in and out of prison, and then become far more likely to become tied up in the arrest-jail-probation cycle. This is bad for families and our society as a whole.”
The 31-year-old demanded an end to "technical violations" and recommended officials introduce legislation that allows people to earn a reduction in probation time for good behavior to avoid "entire swaths of people" spending their lives in the system.
“It’s a shame that model probationers can be immediately put back behind bars simply for missing curfew, testing positive for marijuana, failing to pay fines on time or, in some cases, not following protocol when changing addresses,” he wrote. “Our lawmakers can and should do away with these ‘technical violations.’”
Mill, who is set to launch a foundation that will work on prison reform, concluded his candid essay by adding: "A higher power has put me in a position to help fix this - to help clean up this persistent stain on our society."