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Meek Mill case shows vengeful aspect of justice system

Story highlights

  • Van Jones and Shaka Senghor: The only person who believes Meek Mill should be in prison is Judge Genece E. Brinkley
  • This case is an opportunity for Pennsylvania to right the wrongs of its prison system, they write

Van Jones is a CNN political commentator. He is the co-founder of #cut50, where Shaka Senghor also serves as director of strategy and innovation. #cut50 is a national, bipartisan criminal justice organization fighting to safely and smartly reduce the prison population while keeping communities safe. The opinions expressed in this commentary are their own.

(CNN)Imagine being a father, excited to surprise your son with the ultimate gift: a weekend at Disneyland. But before you can buy tickets, pack your bags, or even begin to imagine the ear-to-ear grin on his face when you tell him, you -- a grown man -- have to ask permission from your probation officer. That's exactly the type of everyday experience that Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill, whose full name is Robert Rihmeek Williams, has struggled with for the last 10 years after coming home from prison.

Despite the stringent probation restrictions Mill faces daily, he has built an international name for himself as a performer and has become a youth mentor to hundreds of kids through organizations like Universal Companies and the NBA's 76ers, hoping to encourage young people to stay out of trouble. Sadly, in spite of all his hard work and community leadership, last Monday, Mill was sentenced to prison for 2-4 years for technical violations of his probation from a 2008 gun and drug case, for which he spent eight months in prison and was given five years of probation. His probation continued to be extended because of violations.
Van Jones
Shaka Senghor
In sending Mill to prison last week, the Philadelphia Common Pleas judge who has overseen his case since 2009, Genece E. Brinkley, cited three violations. That she seized on them appears irrational.
First, she said Mill violated his probation by testing positive for opiates. While this is true, this in no way justifies a 2-4 year prison sentence. Mill tested positive in January, admitted he had a problem, and went to rehab. Brinkley was particularly incensed because she believed she was not notified that Mill received treatment in Atlanta. According to the judge, she had approved travel only to California and not Atlanta.
But emails show that while the company that organized the rehabilitation services was based in California, the services were actually provided in Atlanta and the judge was notified of that fact via email! The assistant district attorney, who was also copied on that email, even confirmed that she received it.
Second, Brinkley found Mill to be in technical violation of his probation when he was charged with offenses resulting from a March fight at the St. Louis International Airport. According to Mill's account, recorded in court transcripts, two people were beating up his 18-year-old friend. That 18-year-old weighed 140 pounds, Mill wrote, and had a bullet lodged in his head from a previous incident. As he was being stomped into the ground, Mill got out of his car to help. All charges against Mill were dismissed in exchange for community service.
Finally, she said that a reckless driving charge in New York should also be considered a technical violation. Mill was in New York shooting a music video in August and popped a wheelie on his dirt bike. That charge was dismissed after he performed community service and agreed to stay out of trouble for six months.
So, seeking treatment for an opioid addiction, breaking up a fight, and entertaining kids on a dirt bike? Mill's story has nothing to do with public safety, and everything to do with making an example of someone by exploiting the punitive and vengeful aspects of incarceration and probation. Sadly, he is not alone. Mill's case is simply highlighting the injustice that millions of young men face nationwide at the hands of the justice system, where young, black men are disproportionately represented.
Van Jones: Police don't kick in doors at Yale
Van Jones: Police don't kick in doors at Yale 02:42
To be clear, Mill hasn't been convicted of any new crimes in the last 10 years, and neither his probation officer nor the Philadelphia district attorneybelieve he should be returned to prison.
In fact, the only party to the case who believes he should is Judge Genece E. Brinkley.
This is the second time Brinkley has sent Mill back to prison for a parole violation. The first was in 2014 for performing out of state without permission.
Looking through court transcripts and filings, it is clear this is a case of a judge gone wild. We reached out to Brinkley for comment on the allegations in this article, but have not received a response. In the meantime, on Tuesday, Mill's lawyers filed a motion for recusal, asking Brinkley to disqualify herself in his case and, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, let a new judge reconsider Mill's prison sentence.
After reviewing an incomplete list of incidents involving Brinkley, we think you will agree there is no reason she should remain in charge of Mill's fate:
• According to an article in the New York Post, by Emily Smith, Brinkley has been under FBI investigation for more than a year and undercover FBI agents have been monitoring some of the judicial proceedings regarding Meek's case. Wrote Smith: "A rep for the FBI Philly field office said, 'Per [Justice Department] policy, we neither confirm nor deny the existence of investigations.'"
• According to an interview that Mill's lawyer gave to TMZ, Brinkley instructed Mill to record a specific duet of a Boyz II Men song and dedicate it to the judge.
• In March 2016, Brinkley showed up at the place where Mill was doing community service. When she arrived, she found out he was sorting clothes instead of serving food to the homeless. Mill's lawyers told us that even though Mill explained that he had been assigned to sort clothes, the judge was furious, and claimed it was just another way he had failed to follow her orders.
• In February 2016, Brinkley recommended that Mill fire his well-respected management company and replace it with a local manager, who happens to be a friend of hers, according to an interview that Mill's lawyer did with Billboard.
• Since February 2016, Brinkley has repeatedly refused Mill's request to access transcripts of his own legal proceedings, in clear violation of his constitutional rights under the US and Pennsylvania Constitutions.
Post incarceration, people face injustices like this often. And it's particularly evident in Mill's hometown of Philadelphia. The city still has the highest incarceration rate per capita of America's 10 largest cities, though it has cut the number of people behind bars by 20% over the last two years. And roughly half those jailed in Philadelphia are stripped of their freedom and locked up not for new crimes, but for minor probation violations, just like Meek Mill's.
Overall, the state of Pennsylvania has the second highest rate of people on probation or parole in the United States, with more than 45,000 people on correctional supervision in Philadelphia alone. Nearly one out of every three prison beds in the state is filled by somebody who violated the terms of their probation or parole. It costs $45,000 a year to house an inmate in a Philadelphia prison. To operate 25 prisons per year, it costs the state $2 billion.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, nationally 1 in 53 adults were on some form of "post-prison surveillance" by the end of 2015. That's roughly 4.65 million adults who can be potentially locked up for minor or technical violations.
While these individuals are not behind bars, they're not totally free either. The smallest mistake could lead to re-incarceration and the day-to-day burden often makes it more difficult to fully acclimate and integrate into society as full, productive citizens. This is a social and economic catastrophe. It also violates America's values and wastes precious taxpayer resources on returning people to incarceration -- too often unjustly -- instead of increasing community safety by investing in education, health care, and substance abuse treatment for those in need.

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High profile cases like Mill's can provide an opportunity for Pennsylvania to right its wrongs. The outrage of seeing him unjustly incarcerated should fuel policy changes that prevent men like him from being sent to prison without committing crimes.

More than 370,000 people have signed a petition in support of Mill on And a rally for him was held on Monday night in Philadelphia.
Mill's case is also an opportunity to show how important it is for us to hold judges accountable. Whenever there is sentencing overreach, or, as music mogul Jay-Z described it, "heavy-handed" sentencing, we must push for judicial accountability.
Finally, this is an opportunity for all of us to come together and envision a world where men and women aren't held hostage to their past. Where misdeeds and mistakes don't define you for the rest of your life. Where you have a real chance to right your wrongs and create a new path of success without looking over your shoulder like Mill has had to do. To help do this, #cut50 is also leading a campaign called #stillnotfree. The campaign's focus is on raising awareness of the challenges faced by people coming home from prison.









"I'm just trying to make a way out of no way, for my people" -Modejeska Monteith Simpkins









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This white broad's just saying: "If you think you're free, think again!" No black person alive in this joint, should even think about getting in any kind of trouble. Once you get in, you'll NEVER get out!! N.E.V.E.R!!!!!!! Gorilla Cages waiting for you in every state in the country, for a Year sentence to 3 Lifetime Sentences and if necessary, 40 years of SOLITARY CONFINEMENT. They can slaughter your ass in the street and get one million dollars donated their way and will be able to live in comfort for the rest of their lipless, ugly, corpse-like lives.

These woman are snotting over some dick they got 40 years ago by some pervert or another; they raped slaves right after they left the boats/ships/whatthefuckever, had babies by them and there are monuments of these bastard all over the south as the greatest men on earth. They're on your dollar bills. Ain't that some shit??? A couple or more, have been in the White's House!!!!! There's something wrong with the heads and mouths of these creeps.

If they had dicks that were worth a damn they'd make them into flag poles and fly the Stars and Stripes Forever upon them. Too bad they just received itty bitty scriggly wrigglies. How dangerous they'd have been otherwise. How many holes have they missed so far, two????

Can you imagine if they had zippers on the pants the length of I95 like a ball player I won't mention, and arms like tree trunks like that football player in the Red Zone commercial?? They'd die fucking!!!!! or trying!!!!

White folks, you're nuts!!!!! Too bad you left those caves; nothing's been right since.

Last edited by Norland

Astounishingly, this is the judge:

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So, who is she trying to get brownie points from by her BLACK ass actually participating in, and facilitating  and THE WAR ON BLACK MEN IN AMERICA, and  THE WAR ON BLACK PEOPLE IN AMERICA via ABUSE OF AUTHORITY, CRUEL AND UNUSUAL SENTENCES, and ZERO EMPATHY FOR ANYONE BLACK and COMPLETE AND TOTAL DESTRUCTION OF A BLACK LIFE  .  .  .

Not to mention, INTIMIDATION, EXTORTION, ABUSE OF PROCESS, ALL of which are HIGHLY ILLEGAL and "clear violations" of his Constitutionally Protected Rights.

She needs to be stripped from that, or any other bench.



There are black folks that sniff the butts of whites, no matter what their occupation. If some could join the Ku Klux Klan, there'd be a few joining immediately. Our sons and daughters need to STAY OUT OF THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM and stop following folks that mean you NO GOOD. Don't do drugs, don't shoot your brothers, don't steal shit. Stay in the white man's school, try to learn as much as possible; read books on your own, get your enunciation on point, dress your behinds neat and clean and presentable and TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER. Buy some soap and take baths. Smell GOOD!!! Start your own business if possible.

Clean up those damn projects and see if you can get the owners to pay you. Stop pissing and shitting in the halls and elevators. (That's beyond nasty!!) Stay out of the liquor stores. Become as saintly as you can so you can avoid those goddamn GORILLA CAGES. That's really where THEY WANT ALL OF US TO BE.

With Orange Square Head with the white raccoon eyes in office, that might be where we all meet our END.

He's chafing at the bit to slaughter the wild animals of Africa with the elephants leading the pact. These bastards can't keep their wrinkled behinds out of AFRICA. They haven't learned a goddamn thing from bringing the 'cestors over here. I wish they'd forget AFRICA exists. Africans are like us; they have enough trouble dealing with each other's criminal asses. Whitie's over there sniffing out the MONEY, the MINERALS, the GOLD and checking what else/who else  they can KILL.

For the record:  Elephants have closer family ties than human families do. The mothers, aunts, nieces and the rest of the females take care of the babies and each other, and do a damn good job of protecting them all. Squarehead, reach into those billions and buy yourself some books on African Wildlife. Spend a couple hours on Animal Planet or Smithsonian, before you pat another Caucasoid (?) pussy. It'd be cool if those ugly sons of yours could run into a couple male bull elephants while they're searching for elephant pussy. They'd show your ugly sons a couple things or two. Flatten them like pan cakes while they put a couple tusks up their asses.  Lay them out flat at the watering hole, before they could let the bullets fly and the knives cut off tails. (Yay!!)

Who wants to see Squarehead's sons killing wild animals that look better than they'll EVER look?? Go to Russia and "high-five" Putin. Get lost on the way back.

Last edited by Norland

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