PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- "I feel like everything happens for a reason...what I went through is terrible and I think it's a path God put me on for a better path right now," said Rapper Meek Mill.
Days after he was released from prison on parole violations, Mill joined forces with Governor Tom Wolf, lawmakers, supporters and community advocates to call for criminal justice reform in Pennsylvania.
"It was a traumatic experience and I am happy to be back and be a part of what I call history because I know there are a lot of voiceless men and people I know personally in prison, who are depending on me, and I feel like God has given me a great platform," Mill said.
"We know that there are a lot more like Meek's in our prison. More people who belong on the outside but are stuck in prison facing harsh sentences for small violation. They lose their freedoms while all of losing more our tax dollars," said Governor Tom Wolf.
Back in November, Mill was sentenced to two to four years behind bars for parole violations...many say his arrest was unfair and an example of how the criminal justice system disproportionately targets people of color. The state Supreme Court eventually ordered Mill to be released while he appeals his decade-old drug and gun convictions. Mill Supporters are hoping his story will spark change in what they call a broken criminal justice system.
"Although Meek was wrongfully convicted, his sacrifice must be a learning moment for all of us by highlighting the national need for immediate criminal justice reform, starting in Pennsylvania," said Michael Rubin, 76ers Co-owner.
"His story is helping because it is putting a big spotlight on something that has been an issue for so many people that don't have his name, his platform, his media, his celebrity status. It's important because I represented many Meek Mills," said State Representative Joann McClinton of 191st Legislate District.
Mill and state leaders say they will continue to fight for reforms that are fairer and focus on rehab and not incarceration for minor offenses. "The men and women that Governor Wolf is talking about that are incarcerated, some of the men and women, I actually spent time with these men and women, and watch families being broken apart because of drug addiction, mental illness, and technical violations," Mill says.
The governor is calling on lawmakers to get behind current reform legislation already in the works. Those initiatives include bail and pre-trial reforms and also Comprehensive Clean Slate Legislation.
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Meek Mill pushing for criminal-justice reform in Pennsylvania
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