After all the petitioning and news coverage, Robert Rihmeek Williams, professionally known as Meek Mill, was released early from his lengthy two to four year sentence in a state prison. As the news of his return home quickly spread, it came as a shock to many people, but to those closest to him it was a sweet end to a slug fest.
His issues with the law all started back in January of 2007, when the rapper was arrested in his hometown of Philadelphia with charges ranging from assault to drug and gun possession. As unfortunate as this was for the rising star, things only began to grow worse. Following his first arrest, a slew of other encounters with the law started to trickle down into the rapper’s life. Over the course of years, Mill had steadily accumulated an outstanding number of wrongdoings according to his court documents. The final straw came on November 6, 2017, when Mill faced Judge Brinkley for violating his terms of probation. According to one website, Judge Brinkley cited a, “failed drug test, failure to comply with an order restricting his travel and two other unrelated arrests - one in St. Louis for a fight in an airport where charges against him were later dropped and the other for reckless driving in New York City where he took a dismissal deal,” as a reason for her decision. But what it all boiled down to was Mill and his dirt bike. He was arrested for riding his bike through the streets of New York.
In hindsight of the situation, fans and other high profile people took to the streets and social media to speak out against the criminal justice system. People were furious, as many thought Meek Mill’s punishment was too harsh, and proof that there needs to be a criminal justice reform. For some, the question was how could someone receive more time for riding a dirt bike, than a cop would for fatally shooting an unarmed person? With that being said, the criminal justice system does reveal itself to have possible holes in it. Here in America, we have the highest incarceration rate in the world, with 40% of that population being made up of African Americans, a CNN study shows. And to add more controversy to the issue, many of the convicted felons are serving time over petty crimes that shouldn’t necessarily require harsh sentences. But unfortunately, compared to Meek Mill, everyone doesn’t have the resources to challenge the system and fix their circumstances.
So what next, now that Mill has been released? Will he go on to join the ranks of people fighting for equality and justice like Colin Kaepernick, or will he resume his regularly scheduled life as a celebrity? During the days leading up to his release there were a number of public figures seen either visiting the rapper or showing signs of moral support. Among them were comedian Kevin Hart, entertainers Jay-Z and Beyonce, and the New England Patriot's owner Robert Kraft. In an interview he did after his release, Mill says, “I got a lot of important people depending on me, and not talking about them people [public officials]. I'm talking about the men that's depending on me going through the same thing that I'm going through." Despite the long battle that looms ahead, Mill has made it clear that he intends to use his platform to help reshape the face of the criminal justice system. If not the first, this is definitely one of the biggest issues that the 30 year old will tackle.
At the moment there is no word on exactly how he’ll help to shine a light on what’s wrong with the justice system, but he has a large audience watching him. However, considering his track record, he has also unintentionally gained an audience of people who doubt the work he promises to do. Ask around, and you’ll find that some people don’t believe that a man of his reputation can stay out of trouble for longer than a few weeks. Only time will tell what Mill plans to do. But after spending five months behind bars, one would hope that he’s had enough time to reflect and put together a solid approach. Hopefully, he didn’t spend his entire time in prison writing songs for a new album—unless it’s an album met to spark debate and inflict action.