Rapper Meek Mill said his adult life has been haunted by convictions for gun and drug possession from more than 10 years ago, and now he’s standing up for others in similar situations.
The hip-hop artist, whose real name is Robert Rihmeek Williams, is vowing to take a stand against the criminal justice system in his latest venture, Reform Alliance, backed by other celebrity friends like Grammy-winning artist Jay-Z, Philadelphia 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
“I’ve been on probation since the age of 18. I’m 31 now,” Mill said during the Thursday launch in New York City, according to CBS News. “Every time I started to further my life, every year or two, there was always something that brought me back to ground zero and that was probation.”
He was thrust into the spotlight as a symbol for reform after a judge sentenced him to serve two to four years in prison for a minor probation violation in 2017, stemming from a charge from when he was a teenager.
Protests erupted, and Mill ended up being released after serving five months.
“I always wondered what happened to the people in situations worse than mine,” Mill said. “I’m here to speak for the people who don’t have a voice.”
There are currently 4.5 million people on parole or probation for unreasonable terms in the United States, Reform Alliance claimed, and the group's mission is to change laws and policies to bring those numbers down.
Mill's friend and fellow musician Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, agreed, emphasizing that he grew up in the projects and sees the problem firsthand.
“If someone commits a crime, they should go to jail,” Jay-Z said. “But these things are just disproportionate and the world knows it.”