In 2008, rapper Meek Mill (Robert Rihmeek Williams) was convicted of drug and weapon charges after a Philadelphia narcotics officer testified against him. Meek Mill has always denied the charges, and prosecutors now admit to serious doubts about that officer's credibility. In fact, prosecutors recently argued before a judge that the conviction should be vacated.
Unfortunately, that left the matter of probation violations after Mill served six months in jail. Most of those violations seem to have involved simply touring outside Pennsylvania without proper notice to his probation officer. It seems he tried to comply with the judge's orders on the subject, but there was no meeting of the minds. Mil was allowed to tour, even out of state but, somehow, he kept tripping up on the details.
He was also arrested twice -- once for reckless driving while shooting a music video.
Over the next decade, Mill's probation would be extended several times. He would be denied parole. He would be placed on house arrest. He would be ordered to take etiquette classes. Finally, last November, the judge sentenced him to two to four years in prison for repeated probation violations. She claimed to have given him "break after break."
Mill's supporters see it differently. Hundreds rallied after the November sentencing. Jay-Z wrote an op-ed for the New York Times arguing that Mill has been "stalked by a system that considers the slightest infraction a justification for locking him back inside." He added that the criminal justice system "entraps and harasses hundreds of thousands of black people every day."
Mill's lawyers asked the judge to recuse herself and let another judge reconsider Mill's sentence. She has refused to do so.
In February, it was revealed that the narcotics officer was on the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office's radar for lying, brutality or racial bias. This information had not been given to Mill's defense attorney at the time of his original trial, which violated his constitutional rights. Additionally, another officer accused him of lying in Mill's very case.
Recently, when prosecutors argued that Mill's original conviction should be vacated, the judge refused to immediately do so. She also refused to hear arguments for bail. It seemed that Mill would be behind bars at least until his next hearing in June.
On April 24, however, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered that Mill should immediately be released on unsecured bail.
It was definitely a win, but a bittersweet one. Mill insists he was unjustly convicted and shouldn't have been in jail in the first place. Now that he has been released, he hopes to use his celebrity to shine a light on wrongful prosecution and official misconduct.