Jay-Z Pens Powerful Op-Ed In Support Of Meek Mill And Criminal Justice Reform

"We could literally shut down jails if we treated people on parole or probation more fairly."

In light of the recent sentencing of Meek Mill, Jay-Z is speaking out about how the criminal justice system has failed Meek Mill and the Black population of the United States. In an op-ed published Friday in the New York Times, the music mogul advocates specifically for the release of the fellow rapper and discusses his experience watching others become "trapped" in the prison system. The piece, his second for the Times, is the latest in a series of moves in the past year in which Jay-Z has used his platform to advocate for criminal justice reform, including joining forces with activist groups who were working to bail parents out of jail for Father's Day this past June.


"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," Jay-Z wrote. "Instead of a second chance, probation ends up being a landmine, 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."

Fellow rapper Mill, who is represented by Jay-Z's management company Roc Nation, was sentenced to two to four years in prison for parole violations by a Philadelphia judge earlier this month. Almost immediately, the sentence was deemed too harsh by many, including Jay-Z, who stopped a concert Dallas to talk about the ruling. A protest in Philadelphia drew hundreds Monday, and a Change.org petition asking Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf to reevaluate the sentence has amassed more than 350,000 signatures.

"We could literally shut down jails if we treated people on parole or probation more fairly," Jay-Z wrote. "And that's what we need to fight for in Philadelphia and across the country. Probation is a trap and we must fight for Meek and everyone else unjustly sent to prison."

Systemic racism continues to be a huge issue plaguing the criminal justice system in the U.S. As Jay-Z noted in the Times, one-third of the 4.65 million Americans who were on some form of parole or probation are Black, and Black people are more likely to be sent to prison for parole or probation violations. One in nine Black children has an incarcerated parent. 

"It's time we highlight the random ways people trapped in the criminal justice system are punished every day," he wrote. "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."

Read Jay-Z's full New York Times op-ed on their site.

Cover image via Debby Wong / Shutterstock


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