Meek Mill's Legal Saga Ends With Him Pleading Guilty, Garners Support From Local Community

Children raised their fists in protest on Tuesday while posing for a photo outside the Philadelphia courthouse where rapper Meek Mill was inside for a status hearing on a drug and gun court case from 2008.

They, and the rest of the public, later learned that Meek Mill pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor gun charge in a deal that ends a nearly 12-year long case. The rapper's prior conviction was thrown out in July based on doubts about the credibility of the arresting officer in his 2008 trial, according to reports.

The judge in the new trial—Common Pleas Court Judge Leon Tucker—decided the time Meek Mill had already served was enough. The decision was apparently favorable to Meek Mill and to others pushing for prison and probation reform in the United States.

"I know this has been a long road for you and hopefully this will be the end of it," Tucker told the rapper, according to reports.

Meek Mill, whose real name is Robert Rihmeek Williams, had originally gone to jail in 2009 after being arrested on gun and drug charges. He was released on parole after five months and given a 10-year probation period.

"I'm very thankful from the bottom of my heart, everybody that ever mentioned my name, that helped me get to this position, uh, Meek free. I'm not on probation no more. I don't have to go to court no more [sic]," Meek Mill told a crowd of people outside of the courthouse on Tuesday.

He added: "I will continue to do what I do with the reform movement and help the people that helped me."

Probation is often given as a sentence instead of time in prison and can include conditions like being on a curfew or going to rehab. Meanwhile, parole is when an inmate is released early from prison with similar conditions to probation.

In the last ten years, Meek Mill has become a platinum-selling artist while on probation. But he also took up the prison reform cause after clashing with the trial judge, Genece Brinkley, who ordered 10 years of probation and sent him back to prison in 2017 for technical violations.

District Attorney Larry Krasner's office supported the musician's appeal and said it could not call the former officer to testify after the department found he'd stolen money on duty and lied about it, The Associated Press reported.

Still, Krasner took into account that Meek Mill acknowledged having a gun, though he rejected allegations that he pointed it at police or sold drugs.

Krasner's office has reportedly backed more than a dozen exonerations but said that Meek Mill couldn't be vindicated completely, as he was guilty of a gun crime, but was also excessively punished, according to The Associated Press.

"Just as Mr. Williams has evolved in the last 10-plus years, the criminal justice system also needs to evolve," Krasner said.

According to a 2018 report by the U.S. Department of Justice, over 6.5 million were considered part of the correctional population at the end of 2016. Just over 2.1 million of those people were incarcerated, while the rest were in some way "supervised by U.S. adult correctional systems," according to the report.

Earlier this year, Meek Mill joined forces with fellow rapper Jay-Z to form the REFORM Alliance, a coalition that lobbies for changes to state probation and parole laws.

"@MeekMill has demonstrated significant rehabilitation; he has evolved and grown," Krasner tweeted on Tuesday. "The @philadao is hopeful that Mr. Williams will continue his good work @REFORM in ways that will help the criminal justice system to similarly evolve and grow."

Rapper Meek Mill appears in court and attends #freemeek reform rally on August 27, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Rapper Meek Mill appears in court and attends #freemeek reform rally on August 27, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images
Meek Mill's Legal Saga Ends With Him Pleading Guilty, Garners Support From Local Community | Culture