Criminal Justice System Prejudices Put On Display
It comes as no surprise to most in America that the criminal justice system is ripe ground for bigotry, negligence, and racism, creating a cycle of recidivism that men of color often become trapped in.
The recent challenges of Robert Rihmeek Williams, Philadelphia rapper better known as “Meek Mill” have shined a new light on the astounding profitization of U.S. criminal justice system that disproportionately impacts men of color. The #FreeMeekMill campaign forced Philadelphia courts to take a closer look at the case ultimately leading to Williams being released on April 24, 2018, after being sentenced last November to two to four years in jail for a series of minor, non-violent probation violations, following his 2008 conviction for drug and weapons charges.
Over the past three decades, the U.S. prison population increased five times, from approximately 500,000 to over 2.2 million between 1980 and 2015. During this time thousands of publicly-traded, private equity-owned, and privately-held companies that generate profits through the criminal legal system on the backs of those it targets: low-income and minority communities, according to the Urban Justice Center for Corrections Accountability Project. African American men compromise one-third of the 4.6 million Americans currently on parole or subject to probation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Williams experience is eerily similar to many black men and should serve as both a call to action and a reminder that all laws are not created equal and we must be our brother's keeper supporting organizations like ERP that are fighting to end recidivism through reentry programs and policy reform.