Meek Mill and Jay-Z team up for criminal justice reform

Jay-Z and Meek Mill

Modal Trigger Jay-Z and Meek Mill Getty Images

In 2008, he was arrested for carrying a gun, a misdemeanor that usually warrants a fine and house arrest, but Mill was sentenced to two years in prison and eight years of probation.

"And every time I started to further my life with the music industry, there was always something that brought me back to ground zero", he said.

Reform Alliance CEO Van Jones said, "I never felt more powerless than watching kids that I cared about get outrageous sentences when I had gone to Yale, and seeing kids doing drugs at Yale".

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, who attended the event, said he was a supporter of criminal justice reforms that are "fair, help our system work better and smarter, and save crucial taxpayer dollars while balancing public safety and victim concerns".

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His incarceration triggered public outcry, and Mill's case became a flashpoint in the national conversation over the U.S. criminal justice system's treatment of black people.

The conversation around criminal justice reform tends to revolve around the 2.2 million people now in prison or jail, but an additional 4.5 million people in the US are on parole and probation, and many find themselves reincarcerated for small technical violations.

In the months since Meek Mill was released from prison after a lengthy - and as-yet-unfinished - battle with the criminal justice system, the Philadelphia rapper has been an outspoken advocate for criminal justice reform, appearing on television and writing a New York Times editorial to address the need for prison reform, especially cash bail and probation, which has kept Meek under the system's thumb since his teens. "11 years of asking for permission", he tweeted on Tuesday. Other founding board members include New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Brooklyn Nets co-owner Clara Wu Tsai.

During this process, Rubin came to believe that the criminal justice system was fundamentally broken. "We're committed to making a monumental difference with this alliance and create the necessary reform that our country deserves".

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"We looked to get together a diverse group of people who had three things in common", Rubin says.

"What's happening to Meek Mill is just one example of how our criminal justice system entraps and harasses hundreds of thousands of black people every day".

The rapper told ABC News in August that he was energized by the support of his fans and grateful for activists who supported the #FreeMeekMill campaign and is now hoping to lend his platform to those who don't have a voice.

Free: 'I'm here to speak for all the people who don't have a voice, ' Mill, who remains on probation until 2023, said at the event.

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"The organization's mission is to "[advance] criminal justice reform and [eliminate] outdated laws that perpetuate injustice, starting with probation and parole".

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