JAY-Z has used his music, documentaries, and written opinion pieces to highlight the injustices of the criminal justice system. On Friday (Nov. 17), Hov published an op-ed in The New York Times to support his incarcerated Roc Nation client Meek Mill.
In the article, JAY-Z uses Meek Mill’s recent prison sentence of two to four years to highlight the way that the U.S. probation system “stalks” black people. Meek Mill, as he points out, has been on probation for nearly a decade for a crime he was convicted on when he was 19 years old, and he was sent to prison despite the charges behind his two arrests this year being dropped.
“Instead of a second chance, probation ends up being a land mine, with a random misstep bringing consequences greater than the crime,” JAY-Z wrote. “… [I]t’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.”
Hov also brings statistics, stating that “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.” He also gives information about Philadelphia – Meek’s hometown – specifically.
“Probation is a trap and we must fight for Meek and everyone else unjustly sent to prison,” he concludes.
Since Meek Mill’s sentencing earlier this month, celebrities, fans, and family have come out to support him, rallying to get Judge Genece Brinkley recused from his case and for a different judge to preside over their appeal. Rick Ross, NBA Hall of Famer Julius Erving, Freeway, Macklemore, and entertainment mogul Charlie Mack joined Meek’s family and fans outside of a courthouse in Philadelphia on Monday, Nov. 13 for a rally in Meek’s honor.