The truest revelations about the inadequacy of our legal system are in individual stories. Look no further than Robert Williams, better known as Meek Mill, who was sentenced yesterday to two to four years in prison for probation violations at the height of his career. Though he had a May scuffle at the St. Louis Airport, where charges were dropped, and a reckless driving offense in New York, presiding Judge Genece Brinkley specifically cited violations of a court order restricting his travel and failed drug tests — though prosecutors said he had been clean since January and didn’t recommend jail time.
Meek didn’t shoot anyone, sexually assault anyone, or deal drugs. He hasn’t been caught with a gun since being convicted of a weapons charge almost a decade ago, in 2008. But for myriad reasons, his probation, which was originally only five years, has been sustained for almost a decade, an albatross hanging from him like one of the many pieces of jewelry he’s known to rock. It’s a wonder he’s made it to the plateau he’s achieved as an artist, as he’s been confined to the state of Pennsylvania for months at a time, missed out on who knows how much money, and even a movie with Will Smith.
In 2014, he tweeted:
“Every time I go 2 probation it’s a new thing. The D.A. on my case a racist. I caught that case when I was 18 [and] she’s still bothering me….I go 2 court July 11th. I want every piece of press 2 see the way they try 2 handle my case because I’m famous. I been on probation almost 6 years without going back 2 jail. I’ve been going 2 see probation every 30 days for almost 6 years. They want me 2 live in Philly so I can get killed or catch a dumb case and go 2 jail. They won’t be happy til it happen.”
The Assistant Defense Attorney he was referring to, Noel Desantis, somehow took his venting as a provocation and said, “he’s asking me to send him to jail and that’s what I’m going to ask for.” She previously sent him to etiquette classes after his fans attacked her based on his tweets — as if he could control that. He was sentenced to six months in prison in July of 2014 for violations that included not coordinating his travel schedule with his probation officer and taking a picture with a gun on Instagram.
Last year, Meek was sentenced to 90 days of home confinement and six more years of probation after he was once again ruled to have violated probation. Brinkley gave him the sentence as if it was a reprieve — after he had to basically beg for mercy. Given what he had done to violate the probation, gave a tampered urine sample and failed to tell his probation officer that he had traveled to the American Music Awards, the sentence was excessive.
I don’t have a law degree, but I’m almost 100% sure that instead of incarceration or confinement, a simple fine that offset any money he had made through his secretive trips would’ve made the famously money-chasing MC think twice about ever doing it again. And as for the cold water sample, there’s no denying the stupidity — but as I’ve said before, drug abuse is par for the course growing up with the trauma Meek has. He noted kicking a drug problem just earlier this year. I’m not excusing his errors, but the punishment for them was egregious — specifically the criminalization of a possible drug problem when rehabilitation has continually proven to be a better solution. Meek reportedly sought drug rehab in Atlanta, but the fact he did it without telling the judge still hurt him in his most recent hearing.
While Brinkley told Meek at the time that he wasn’t being forthright about his urine sample, she and her peers should perhaps look in the mirror, because they haven’t been forthright about the conditions of his probation.