Jay-Z penned a New York Times op-ed to ramp up his criticism of the criminal justice system on Friday after a judge sentenced the rapper Meek Mill to two to four years in prison for violating probation.
“It’s time we highlight the random ways people trapped in the criminal justice system are punished every day,” Jay-Z writes. “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.”
A Philadelphia judge sentenced Mill on November 6th, ignoring advice from a prosecutor and probation officer who were not in favor of sending the rapper back to jail. “Probation ends up being a land mine, with a random misstep bringing consequences greater than the crime,” Jay-Z writes. “In March, [Mill] was arrested after an altercation in a St. Louis airport. After video of what had actually happened was released, all charges were dropped … In August, he was arrested for popping a wheelie on a motorcycle on his video set in New York. Those charges were dismissed after he agreed to attend traffic school … The charges were either dropped or dismissed, but the judge sent him to prison anyway.”
Jay-Z points out that this is not an isolated incident. “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,” he writes. “Black people are sent to prison for probation and parole violations at much higher rates than white people … Probation is a trap and we must fight for Meek and everyone else unjustly sent to prison.”
Mill’s unjust sentencing has already moved Jay-Z to denounce the probation system multiple times. He initially condemned the court’s decision via a Facebook post earlier this month. “The sentence handed down by the Judge – against the recommendation of the Assistant District Attorney and Probation Officer – is unjust and heavy-handed,” he wrote.
He addressed the sentencing again during a concert in Dallas. “Everyone has to be just as outraged,” he told the crowd. “You can’t look at it as a black or white issue, you have to look at it as a human issue.”