Criminal Justice

Meek Mill Wants to Use His Voice for Criminal Justice Reform

The rapper criticizes the probation system's obstacles to redemption.


The Tonight Show/Screenshot via YouTube

Meek Mill learned firsthand how hard it is to exit the criminal justice system. Now he's using his celebrity to call for change.

The rapper, whose real name is Robert Rihmeek Williams, was convicted in 2008, at age 19, for walking into a Philadelphia grocery store while possessing a gun. He has spent the subsequent 10 years either in jail or on probation for a number of reasons, including fights, popping a wheelie, and, he says, refusing to let police search his vehicle.

Mill has attempted to get the 2008 charges thrown out, citing misconduct. The arresting officer, Reginald Graham, was the sole police witness to testify in Mill's case; in his testimony he claimed that Mill pointed a gun at the police while being arrested. An internal affairs report has since accused Graham of various forms of misconduct, including stealing money in a drug bust, and a former officer has accused Graham of lying under oath during the Mill trial. Three cases involving Graham have already been tossed due to his credibility problems, but thus far Mill's efforts have been unsuccessful.

Mill came on The Tonight Show Tuesday with Philadelphia 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin. There they announced a desire to "help these other millions of people that are stuck in the system unfairly" by reducing the nation's incarceration rate. Mill said he thinks people who committed crimes should be punished, but he criticized the probation system's obstacles to redemption. "We've got to change the country and help these other millions of people that are stuck in the system unfairly," he said.

Mill's latest stint in prison began just after a 2017 appearance on the same show. The rapper popped a quick wheelie on his motorcycle while leaving the program and was charged with reckless endangerment and reckless driving. Since the incident, Mill's probation has been extended to 2023.