PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Reverand Al Sharpton is the latest famous name to lend his support to Meek Mill.
Sharpton visited the 30-year-old rapper in a Pennsylvania prison Monday and told reporters that Mill has become a symbol for the thousands of people who have been “victimized by abusive probationary and parole systems.”
“He’s representative of many people in institutions like this that do little or nothing, they’re violated and their lives, their businesses are ruined,” Sharpton said.
Sharpton is president of the National Action Network, a civil rights organization. Criminal justice reform is one of the group’s main platforms.
On Nov. 6, Judge Genece Brinkley sentenced Meek Mill, whose legal name is Robert Rihmeek Williams, to two to four years in state prison for probation violations on a nearly a 10-year-old gun charge.
The sentence sparked public outcry from a host of celebrities, including rapper and mogul Jay-Z and former NFL quarterback and activist Colin Kaepernick. Hundreds of supporters rallied for Meek Mill’s release in the past few weeks.
“If you can do this to a successful artist like Meek Mill, you can do this to many around the country,” Sharpton said.
While Meek Mill’s supporters say the punishment far outweighs the crime, detractors argue that he has been given several chances to stay out of trouble.
In the meantime, the performer remains at the medium-security state prison in Chester. At his request, he is in the general population.
Officials moved him to Chester earlier this month from a prison in Cumberland County, where he was in solitary confinement due to his high-profile status.