True Life Dreams & Nightmares: Meek Mill’s Saga a Signal That Reform is Necessary

Hurelayn Abdu, Editor- In - Chief

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Robert Rihmeek Williams, better known as Meek Mill, is a Philadelphia based rapper. He became relatively well-known through a couple of hit songs and his relationship with hip-hop big name Nicki Minaj. However, he has recently garnered national attention for his legal struggles, which have shed light on issues that exist within the U.S. probation system.

According to Rolling Stone writer Kory Grow, Mill’s legal issues began on January 23, 2007 when Reggie Graham, an officer in the Philadelphia Narcotics Field Unit (NFU) claimed to have seen Mill sell crack-cocaine to an informant. The NFU later obtained a warrant and searched Mill’s house the next day on January 24, 2007 where they allegedly found about $30,000 in cash that belonged to Mill’s cousin, William Bailey, who sources reported sold marijuana.

In an interview with Grow, Mill alleged that the police used his head “as a battering ram to open the door” and beat him so badly that he “passed out multiple times and had to get stitches.” According to court records, Officer Graham defended his actions saying that Mill had pointed a gun at him and that his actions were simply a reaction to that.

Mill later disputed these claims, saying that he was in court with his cousin during the day that he was allegedly selling crack, and that although he had been carrying a gun the day the police came to search his house, he says he had ditched it beforehand, making it impossible for him to point it at Graham.
Judge Genece Brinkley sentenced Mill to eleven to twenty-three months in prison along with seven months of probation in 2008 on charges of simple assault, possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, and being in possession of a loaded weapon. After serving just five months, he was paroled and placed under house arrest. Between 2010-2013, Mill violated aspects of his parole on multiple occasions, though he was not jailed for any of these mostly minor violations. However, in July, 2014 he was sent to jail for five months for failing to report to his probation officer and unauthorized travel. As a result, an additional five years were added to his probation from 2008.

Earlier this year CNN reported that Mill was “popping a wheelie”- dangerously riding a dirtbike on the road – in a social media post. After the release of the video, he was arrested on a felony count of reckless endangerment. However, the charges were reduced to a misdemeanor and later dropped. This did not stop the judge who originally sentenced him, Judge Brinkley, from charging him with breaking his probation and sentencing him to 2 to 4 years in prison in November, 2017.

Mill’s lawyers appealed the decision and Mill received support from the district attorney, who agreed that Mill should not be sent to prison for such a minor infraction.

This is where a number of examples of injustice began to come to light. According to Rolling Stone, during this period, it was revealed that Meek’s arresting officer, Graham, had been under investigation for corruption and that the Philadelphia district attorney’s office advised that he should not be giving testimony in any criminal cases. Mill’s lawyers used this information to argue that Mill should be released, since the case that resulted in him being on bail in the first place was compromised. Then it was reported by multiple sources that the FBI had opened an investigation into Judge Brinkley, following claims by Mill that she had tried to inappropriately influence his business dealings.

Even after gaining support from powerful people such as Philadelphia 76ers owner Michael Rubin, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, and Jay Z, whose Roc Nation manages Mill, it seemed that Mill’s fate was sealed. But on April 24th Mill was released after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted him bail.
While Mill may have been ultimately granted his freedom, the story should not stop here, because for every Meek Mill of the world there are many others who lack the knowledge or resources to get themselves out of the revolving doors of the criminal justice system. Reforms must be made to not only the criminal justice system and how suspected corruption is dealt with, but with the bail and probation systems as well.

At the end of the day, the purpose of bail and probation is to keep people out of jails and prisons and allow them to demonstrate that they have changed and can be a contributing member of society. While people on bail and probation should be monitored, they should have logical restrictions placed upon them. In the case of Mill, his career required him to travel outside of his probation area, yet Judge Brinkley and others said this violated his parole. Creating logical practices for bail and parole and ending corruption are important issues that the nation must address.

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True Life Dreams & Nightmares: Meek Mill’s Saga a Signal That Reform is Necessary