Sharpton: Meek Mill symbolizes need for criminal justice reform

Famed civil rights activist Al Sharpton visited recently re-imprisoned Philly rapper Meek Mill at the state prison in Chester on Monday.

Speaking after the visit with Meek’s defense attorney, Joseph Tacopina, Sharpton said the rapper doesn’t just want his own freedom but to see the system that imprisoned him changed.

“If you can do this to a successful artist like Meek Mill, you can do this to many around the country,” Sharpton said. “He is representative of something far more than he started – he is a symbol of the abuses of the system that will violate you over nothing and end up ruining the potential and the ability to look forward in life.”

Meek was sentenced to two to four years in prison earlier this month over three alleged violations of his probation stemming from a 2007 arrest for gun possession, a charge for which he already served eight months in prison, as well as five more months in 2014 and 90 days house arrest in 2015 for other violations.

His sentence has earned heated criticism as well as defense from those who say the judge’s sudden sentence was not uncommon in probationary proceedings.

“I came because I feel that Meek represents thousands of people in Pennsylvania,” Sharpton said, “and even tens of thousands around the country that have been victimized by abusive probationary and parole systems that give room for judges to act way beyond what is necessary.”

Tacopina has accused the judge hearing Meek’s case of holding a grudge against the rapper who rose from the streets.

They have filed motions for recusal and reconsideration of the sentence. No hearings are currently scheduled in the case.

“You’re really exposing a ruthlessness in the system that should be changed, and I would appeal to her to look at this and really examine it,” Sharpton said. “Does she really want to go down as the type of person who would do that? I don’t think she does. I would ask her to reconsider, or at least step aside.”

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