Jay-Z doesn't think Meek Mill deserves to be imprisoned, and he wants you to know why.
In a New York Times op-ed published Friday, the rapper outlines why he thinks the U.S. criminal justice system has failed Mill and other Black people.
Earlier this month, a Philadelphia judge sentenced Mill to two to four years in prison for a violation of his probation. A number of celebrities, including Jay-Z, criticized the decision, using the hashtag #FreeMeek to show their discontent with the ruling. Mill was on probation after being sentenced for gun and drug charges in 2008, CNN explains.
"On the surface, this may look like the story of yet another criminal rapper who didn't smarten up and is back where he started," Jay-Z wrote in his op-ed. "But consider this: Meek was around 19 when he was convicted on charges relating to drug and gun possession, and he served an eight-month sentence. Now he's 30, so he has been on probation for basically his entire adult life. For about a decade, he's been stalked by a system that considers the slightest infraction a justification for locking him back inside."
The rapper goes on to write that "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," noting that he saw similar situations during his childhood in Brooklyn.
"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," Jay-Z wrote. "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."
Jay-Z ends his op-ed by mentioning Color of Change, an advocacy group that is demanding "justice for Meek Mill" through an online petition. He encourages people to speak out on behalf of those who are unjustly imprisoned — criminal justice reform is an issue that isn't going away anytime soon. Read Jay-Z's full op-ed over at The New York Times.