Meek Mill has been sentenced 2-4 years for violating his probation by Common Pleas Judge Genese Brinkley of Philadelphia. For some, this may seem the appropriate sentence, but many are up in arms over the Judge’s harsh sentence.
Meek Mill is no stranger to the court room as this probation arises from a 2009 drug and weapons conviction where he served eight months in prison. Upon his release, the initial conditions of his probation provided he remain on probation for five years. However, because he failed to report to his probation officer and further failed to obtain permission to travel outside of Philadelphia he was forced to serve an additional five months in prison and his probation terms were extended to 10 years.
Many would argue Meek was provided with numerous opportunities to walk a straight line during his probation. Many would argue because due to his celebrity status it was incumbent upon him to act in an exemplary fashion while on probation. Yet, he continuously found himself in precarious situations. In March 2017, Meek was arrested after a fight in the St. Louis airport; charges were later dropped. He later also plead guilty to reckless driving in NYC after he posted videos of himself doing wheelies on a dirt bike…. Looks as if Meeks twitter fingers let him down once more!
Certainly, a strong argument can be made as to the obvious; he violated the terms of his probation and therefore should be dealt with accordingly. However, it is of equal importance to consider alternative factors. Primarily the fact that both the Assistant District Attorney and Meek’s Probation Officer did not recommend jail time. Judge Brinkley (per her discretion) ignored the ADA’s recommendation and threw the book at him. During Meek’s Probation hearing, Judge Brinkley stated:
“I’ve been trying to help you since 2009,” Brinkley said, citing a failed drug test, failure to comply with a court order restricting his travel and two other unrelated arrests. “You basically thumbed your nose at me.” Furthermore, as per the Associated Press, [t]he handing down of the sentence came after a prosecutor recommended that Mill not be imprisoned for the violations, saying that he has been clean since January and that he has grown as a person since his original crime. Brinkley said the prosecutor was too new to the case to understand how Mill just “does what he wants.”
During the hearing, Meek admitted his violation but also stated if he was jailed his musical career would be over. In a plea to Judge Brinkley he further admitted his addiction to prescriptions pills and stressed that his career was an avenue to escape a life of crime. Judge Brinkley ultimately found the sentence of 2-4 years appropriate.
As a result, Meek’s sentencing, many activists of criminal justice reform have taken to social media to voice their opinions and support.
One being Jay Z who stated, “[t]he sentence handed down by the Judge – against the recommendation of the Assistant District Attorney and Probation Officer – is unjust and heavy handed. We will always stand by and support Meek Mill, both as he attempts to right this wrongful sentence and then in returning to his musical career.”
As a Former Prosecutor, I have witnessed firsthand the vicious cycle of criminal justice. It is a constant revolving door, seeing the same individuals (primarily young black men) file through the court house in chains and orange suits with their heads hanging low. Something must be said as to why the recidivism rate is so high. Yes, many individuals should hold themselves accountable for their actions, but the system must be changed. Much can be said as to the efforts of our Former Attorney General Eric Holder, through the “Smart on Crime” initiative which by his own words, “set to decrease crime while reducing the draconian mandatory minimum sentencing for low level drug offenses and encouraging more investment in rehabilitation programs to tackle recidivism.” This would have been a tremendous breakthrough in plight to restructure the criminal justice system. Yet through the election of 45, Attorney General Sessions, has sought to completely erase this initiative and “Get Tough on Crime” by instructing federal prosecutors in a memo to pursue the harshest punishments legally allowed. Though his policy was circulated on the federal level, please do not be misled to believe this does not affect us on a state level. As a matter of fact, this can be felt immediately on a local level…and if you do not believe me…ask Meek. Hence why it is vital to vote in local elections for your local District Attorneys and Judges. Our criminal justice system will never be changed if the individuals who hold the power on a local level are not ousted.
Local elections are for Baton Rouge City Court Judge are being held on November 18th. You can voice your opinion on Meek’s current situation on social media but your voice will be the loudest at the polls! The fight for criminal Justice begins with you! In the words of President Obama, “Don’t Boo… Vote!”
Stephanie L. Willis is a National Legal Analyst, appears on Fox News and is a host on the Law Newz Network by ABC’s chief legal correspondent, Dan Abrams. Stephanie graduated from Southern University Law Center and is a former State Prosecutor. She is partner at The Willis Law Firm, where she currently practices Criminal Defense, Entertainment Law and Civil Litigation.