Meek Mill Got Exactly What He Deserved
But it was also the stupidest sentence ever, and a massively wasted opportunity.
In case you somehow missed the big news from yesterday … no, not Donald Trump in Asia. And not the possibility of war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. And no, not Ronan Farrow’s latest takedown of Harvey Weinstein. We’re talking about Philly rapper extraordinaire Meek Mill, whom a Philly judge just sentenced to two to four years in state prison.
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A lot of people are none too happy with this outcome, as a quick search of social media will show you. The common argument being used by his friends, followers, and your progressive pals who’ve never heard a Meek Mill song in their life is that Meek Mill was just sentenced to up to four years in prison for riding a dirt bike.
Of course, that’s what we call fake news.
Meek Mill was arrested in Philadelphia way, way back in 2007 on 19 drug, gun, and related charges. He was eventually found guilty of seven of those charges, including two felonies. Spitting on the sidewalk this was not.
In 2009, Judge Genece Brinkley sentenced him to up to two years in jail followed by probation. And, according to court documents, he keeps violating that probation. He violated it in 2011. He violated it in 2013. He violated it in 2014. He violated it in 2015. This is all documented in court.
Also documented in the court record is that while all this was going on, his lawyer requested permission for him to leave the area — part of his probation requirement was that he stay put — to go on tour internationally and to record out-of-state. And time and time again, Judge Brinkley approved those requests.
But this year, things took a turn for the worse.
He was arrested twice. First, he was picked up in March and charged with assault in St. Louis after some fracas at the airport. Then in August, he was arrested and charged with reckless driving in New York after cops said he was doing wheelies in the street. In both of those cases, he took a deal that saw the charges dropped in exchange for him performing community service. But, reasons Brinkley, merely being arrested can be a violation of probation.
Plus, he’s recently failed drug tests, according to the court, and the judge also says that he’s flouted the geographical limitations imposed upon him by playing shows outside of Philadelphia without her permission.
So, I’m sorry, but you shouldn’t feel bad for Meek Mill. There is a tragic and seemingly insurmountable problem of the mass incarceration of black men in this country. But Meek Mill is not the poster child for that cause. He’s a wealthy celebrity who has broken the rules time and time again and now must face the consequences. So spare me the protests and the #FreeMeekMill hashtags.
All that said, this was the dumbest sentence I could imagine imposing on a man like Meek Mill, whom Philly Mag recently named one of the 100 most influential Philadelphians. He’s clearly talented. He clearly knows the music business. And a lot of Philly kids look up to him. And though he can’t seem to shake this probation thing, it seems like there are much, much worse role models out there.
So instead of locking him up for as many as four years on my dime and yours, here’s what I’d do: I’d let him play a few short tours to keep the money rolling in, keeping him in Philly the rest of the time. I’d tell him to use some of that money to open a decked-out recording studio and music production school for Philly kids. And then I’d make him spend 500 hours at the school, teaching kids the ropes and reminding them how not to screw their lives up like he did.