PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — One week after being released from jail, Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill is back in the spotlight, calling for criminal justice reform.
Meek Mill was joined at a Thursday morning press conference in Center City by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, Rep. Dwight Evans and Philadelphia 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin.
The rapper wouldn’t talk specifically about his case, but he is using his experience to talk about criminal justice reform.
Mill, whose real name is Robert Rihmeek Williams, spent nearly six months in prison after Philadelphia Judge Genece Brinkley sentenced him to two to four years in state prison for probation violations on a nearly 10-year-old gun charge.
The ruling sparked outrage for months and led to some of the highest elected leaders in the state to call for Mill’s release on bail.
The state Supreme Court eventually stepped in and executed a rarely used intervention power to order Mill be released on bail.
Mill says there are many “voiceless men” in prison who are depending on him.
“It was a traumatic experience and I’m happy to be back and be a part of what I call history because I know it’s a lot of voiceless men and people I personally know, being in prison, sitting next to them every day, who are depending on me,” said Mill. “And I feel like God has given me a great platform to help many others and make, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the world a better place.”
Lawmakers say Mill’s high profile clash with the courts spotlighted alarming issues with Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system, especially those without a celebrity status.
“The outcry and the outrage surrounding the details of his circumstances and the outpouring of support for Meek showcased the broader concern and emotion over our criminal justice system as a whole,” said Wolf.
Wolf says the criminal justice system needs to be “fairer.”
“One thing is clear, we need to make our system fairer so that we are only sending those who belong in prison to our correctional institutions, so that we are not wasting time, we’re not wasting money, supervising those who simply don’t belong in prison,” said Wolf.
The governor wants legislation passed to cap such lengthy supervision, and he’s using Mill as an example.
“I don’t think any human being should be locked, shackled from top to bottom ankle to hand, because they use marijuana or was addicted to opioids. I just don’t think… I think there should be a cap,” said Mill.
Mill is scheduled for a hearing in June.
It’s possible the hearing could be Mill’s last, but from what we gathered, he’s hardly confident that will be the case.
“I’m nervous every day being on probation, I’ve been in jail at least four times for technical violations. I always feel like my freedom could be taken, I could walk outside, somebody could accuse me of something and I could end up back in a state prison,” said Mill.