opinion

Meek Mill's prison sentence: Opinions and hot takes from around Philadelphia

Erica Palan, Opinion Coverage Editor

Updated: Tuesday, November 21, 2017, 2:45 PM

Signe cartoon SIgn22e Meek Mill

As Philadelphians, we aren’t known for our calm temperaments.

Rapper Meek Mill arrived at the criminal justice center in Philadelphia on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017. Matt Rourke / AP
A billboard in support of Meek Mill. Staff
Photo Gallery: Meek Mill's prison sentence: Opinions and hot takes from around Philadelphia

So it’s no surprise that everyone had something to say last week when Common Pleas Court Judge Genece E. Brinkley sentenced rapper Meek Mill to two to four years in prison for parole violations. The case has tapped into the justice and injustice issues many Philadelphians have been raging about for years, notably surrounding race and the criminal justice system.

Here, a look at opinions from real Philadelphians about the Meek Mill case:

“[Mill] should have just done what [the judge] told him to do.”

“If he had done that from the beginning, he wouldn’t be in this mess. With his kind of money, Mill could have surrounded himself with a team of legal advisers to ensure that he never overstepped the terms of his probation. He shouldn’t have allowed handlers to book concerts outside the area or make any other moves before he cleared it. Instead, he insisted on doing things his way, and the judge wasn’t having it. It was going to be her way — not his.”

Read the full story: Meek Mill is a victim of his own ego by Jenice Armstrong

“Real judges have a life and more important s— to do.”

“Let’s not forget the judge’s infamous visit to the Broad Street Ministry in Philadelphia after ordering Mill to feed the homeless at the church as community service. Brinkley acknowledged going there and observing him sorting clothing – not handing out food as she’d ordered.

Michael Coard, a local defense attorney, told me, ‘In my more than 20 years as a trial lawyer, not only has no judge ever visited any of my clients doing community service, I’ve never even heard of that happening. And that’s because real judges have a life and more important s—- to do.'”

Read the full story: I want to interview the judge in the Meek Mill case by Jenice Armstrong

Rapper Meek Mill arrived at the criminal justice center in Philadelphia on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017.

“Meek Mill has become the face of probation and parole and the excesses of a system that ensnares so many without celebrity status. When the law allows judges to incarcerate people under their supervision solely because of a technical violation — when they committed no new crime and pose no threat whatsoever — we have a problem.”

Read the full story: Meek Mill’s sentence reveals problems with Pa.’s extreme use of court supervision by Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania

“Lost in the hysterical effort to portray Mill as a latter-day Nelson Mandela is the fact that Mill also was convicted of a crime.”

“The real point is that yes, the criminal justice system is in need of dramatic reform, but Mill is not the poster child for that reform.

One area of reform needed is the system of life without parole, which denies many redeemed, productive citizens from returning to society and contributing to their communities. To continue to imprison those who have so completely transformed their lives when they are 60, 70, and 80 years old, at a cost of millions of dollars to taxpayers, is illogical, wasteful, and contrary to the historical values of our commonwealth.”

Read the full story: Making a martyr of Meek Mill doesn’t help criminal justice reform by Bryan Lentz, a lawyer in Philadelphia.

“Every black Philadelphian … should be protesting the criminal justice system …”

“Don’t tell me the hyper-punitive sentencing of Mill doesn’t smack of racism just because the judge in question is black. Black judges can be tools of racism, just as their white counterparts can. In fact, black judges can sometimes be worse.

In their zeal to prove their loyalty to the system, black judges, like black cops and black prosecutors, can sometimes overcompensate in an effort to show racial impartiality. That can spell disaster for the young black men who come in contact with them.”

Read the full story: Other people of color deserve protests in the street besides Meek Mill by Solomon Jones

“Probation should be a road to a better life, not … an endless cycle of desperation.”

“Meek Mill may not be the perfect person, but this is the perfect time to talk about the problem his case has amplified. Many people think Meek Mill, or individuals in a similar position, “deserve” to be sent to prison. Perhaps some think the purpose of putting human beings in jail cells for multiple years is to teach them a lesson. But understand that this is how mass incarceration perpetuates itself, and to justify these sorts of sentences is to embrace the very problem of hypersurveillance and erosions of personal liberty.

Through this case, the public can see how easy it is to have technical rule violations land people in prison.”

Read the full story: Meek Mill case is a sign of Probation Nation by Keir Bradford-Gre, chief defender, Defender Association of Philadelphia

A billboard in support of Meek Mill.

“What kind of ‘second chance’ is court supervision when it undermines people more than it lifts them up?”

Last year, a third of the individuals locked up on State Road had not committed a new crime, but rather failed one of the daily pop quizzes supervision entails. These quizzes include hard questions: Should I visit my family or make curfew? Should I go to the hospital or keep my probation appointment? Did I remember to report my change of address? Can I join my new coworkers at a bar after our shift? Answering any number of these questions “wrong” in the eyes of your probation officer could mean an express ticket back to jail.”

Read the full story: Philly social worker: What court supervision is like for people who aren’t Meek Mill by Michael McKee, a social worker at Broad Street Ministry

“Don’t bring up Meek Mill at the dinner table.”

A judge’s decision to send Mill to jail last week on probation violations has gotten many all riled up. Differences often are split along the usual color lines, but debate surrounding the fate of the rap superstar has been a particularly hot topic in African American circles, exposing deep divisions along the lines of class, education, and life experience. Some of the resulting vitriol has been ugly. And the shade. Oh, the shade!

Read the full story: Want to keep the peace at Thanksgiving? Don’t bring up Meek Mill by Jenice Armstrong

Erica Palan, Opinion Coverage Editor

Read full story: Meek Mill's prison sentence: Opinions and hot takes from around Philadelphia