On Saturday, Meek Mill sat down with CNN’s Michael Smerconish to discuss his new album, “Championships,” criminal justice reform, North Philly, and how the violent environment affected his future.
To kick off the conversation, the two discussed Meek’s thoughts on the criminal justice system, as he compared the penitentiary to the plantation and opened up about his own personal experiences.
“I spent time with men who had 28 months in prison for $100 bail. They weren’t even found guilty for their crimes, but $100 kept them in prison. The taxpayers had to pay money to keep guys like this in prison, and it was for a petty crime. Things like that never made sense,” he said. “Even being on probation – I been on probation since I was 19 years old, I’m 31-years-old.”
“Just seeing people work in prison for $.08 an hour, not really be able to pay their dues and pay their debts back to society, they were paying their debts back to the system and money was being made,” he added.
“We are like trapped inside of a system that’s extremely hard for us to get out,” Meek continued. “I don’t feel like anybody is addressing it to try to help fix things. It’s a lot of things in the system that clearly don’t make sense to the world, but it’s going on today, and it’s keeping many young black men caught up in the system – without even committing crimes.”
As the rapper continued, he opened up about his own struggles in the system, most of which came at the hands of an African American judge.
“I ain’t even blame it on like Caucasian, African American, I think it’s actually a mindset of self-hate. I don’t think it’s a thing of a certain color, but it’s designed to keep people like myself and the culture I come from – you can be white and come from where I come from, and born in these conditions, and still get caught up in the same design.”
Next, he opened up about an alignment with Donald Trump for the sake of criminal justice reform. Though he made it clear that he is not a politician, he did say he has no problem with anyone making a change for those who are unable to fight for themselves.
Then, he addressed critics, who don’t believe he is the right person to be the face of criminal justice reform because of his own criminal record. So, he explained his case.
“I grew up in America, in a ruthless neighborhood, where we are not protected by police. We grew up around murder. If you grew up in my neighborhood and saw murder seven days a week, I think you’d probably carry a gun yourself. Would you?” He asked, to which Smerconish replied, “Yeah, I probably would.”
“My first juvenile arrest, going to school being suspended – I didn’t want to tell my mother that I was suspended from school because my mom would have to take off from work, she was a single parent,” he explained of his first arrest, which was trespassing for going to school on a suspended day.
At 18, Meek explained being arrested by a narcotics strike force, which consists of several officers, most of which – in Meek’s case – were federally investigated. The rapper revealed he was arrested for pointing a gun at the force, without a single shot being fired.
“Do you believe a young black man in America can point a gun at two or three cops because I’m not the only one that get found guilty of these things. Cops charge people with these things at an alarming rate,” he said. “People take deals cause they don’t have lawyer money or they can’t afford attorneys to even fight for their freedom.”
“Pointing a gun at a police officer is suicide for a black young man, I never thought about committing suicide in my life, so that’s almost like disrespect to me,” Meek added.
“I don’t know how people could say I shouldn’t be the face of it. I was wrongly accused, I was sent to jail multiple times for not even committing crimes, I been sent to jail at least two or three times just for being addicted to Percocet, and never was sent to rehab,” he said. “If somebody like myself, who’s doing so good for myself – if probation can stalk me down and bring me back to a state penitentiary without committing crimes, what could it do to these other kids who are trapped in these environments, surrounded by crime and violence? They don’t stand a chance.”