Rapper Meek Mill, incarcerated since November 2017 on parole violation charges, was released on bail yesterday by order of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Mill's release caused celebrations both locally in Philadelphia, where he is from, and as part of a nationwide movement for criminal justice reform.
New Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, who earlier this year released a revolutionary policy memo attempting "to end mass incarcerations and bring balance back to sentencing," did not oppose Mill's release. And the City of Brotherly Love cheered his freedom.
How Mill (born Robert Rihmeek Williams) got to this point is complicated. His first arrest was at 18 for firearm possession and assaulting an officer and he was placed on probation. A year later he was arrested and sentenced to prison on drug dealing and gun possession charges, then released on a five-year parole agreement, an agreement that Meek Mill has been charged with violating at least four times.
Most of those violations were failures to report travel plans, for which he was assigned to etiquette classes and, eventually, house arrest. The most recent, though, was an alleged assault of two pedestrians in a St. Louis airport in March 2017. Eight months later Meek Mill was sentenced to two to four years in prison for violating his parole.
Minutes after his release, Mill was whisked via Philadelphia 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin to the Sixers Game 5 playoff showdown with the Miami Heat. Mill rang the ceremonial Liberty Bell replica prior to tipoff, sat courtside with Rubin and comedian Kevin Hart, and watched the Sixers win the series last night 4-1.
What's next? Mill, for now, remains only out on bail while his underlying conviction remains under review. In ordering his release, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court cited "credibility issues with a police officer who was a 'critical witness'" in Mill's initial arrest, and the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office has requested a new trial based on whether that officer's evidence is credible.
"I'd like to thank God, my family, and all my public advocates for their love, support and encouragement during this difficult time," Mill tweeted. "While the past five months have been a nightmare, the prayers, visits, calls, letters and rallies have helped me stay positive." He also told NBC's Lester Holt, "Let's now retire #FreeMeekMill and make it #JusticeReform."