Meek Mill played Criminal Justice Santa by helping to get almost 2 dozen women out of jail in Philadelphia so they could spend the holiday with their families. They were women of the Riverside Correctional Facility who couldn’t afford bail. Starting with 5 released Saturday and another 15 to be released in the coming weeks. His nonprofit REFORM Alliance he created alongside Jay-Z stated that each of the women will also receive gift cards “to purchase groceries or gifts for the holidays.”
In a separate Instagram post by the REFORM Alliance, Meek expressed why this was important to him to do by stating, “It was devastating for me to be away from my son during the holidays when I was incarcerated, so I understand what these women and their families are going through. For families impacted by the criminal justice system, the holidays can be an extremely challenging time,” Meek Mill went on. “No one should have to spend the holidays in jail simply because they can’t afford bail, and no child should be without their parents during this time if we can do something about it. I’m grateful for the opportunity to help these women be with their families and loved ones during this special time of year.”
The REFORM Alliance is described on its website as an organization “aims to transform probation and parole by changing laws, systems and culture to create real pathways to work and wellbeing.” It was born out of the 2 to 4 years he was sentenced for a parole violation of riding an ATV in the city. And as for his choice to decide to help women specifically, it reminds me of the charity brunch I attended recently put on by Bold Yoga in DC where a woman that was a returning citizen said that while men have people placing money on their books, we tend to ignore women in prison. People tend to believe if they’re there they deserved it.
Myesha Braden of the Criminal Justice Project of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights under Law and Phylicia H. Hill the Economic Justice Project of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law penned a piece for The Baltimore Sun pointing out how women are less likely to be able to afford bail. They also showed the general issue with bail itself stating, “The widespread practice of detaining individuals on generic predetermined or “fixed” bail threatens the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of the right to a fair trial by impeding individuals in their ability to assist in the preparation of their own defense. If someone is in jail pending trial, that person is less able to confer with their attorneys, less able to review documents and evidence, and less able to help locate and contact potential defense witnesses. The longer a person is detained waiting trial, the more likely they are to plead guilty.”
We’re simply happy to see these women having the chance to be home for the holidays and that Meek is using his celebrity for good. We watched him in an interview with Charlamagne tha God where he repeatedly showed that he isn’t the most at criminal justice issues and it appeared a lot of the questions were over his head, but at least he has his heart in the right place.