PHILADELPHIA (CN) — Calling for the judge who sentenced rapper Meek Mill to step aside, the Rev. Al Sharpton said a broken criminal-justice system is to blame for Mill’s imprisonment.
In a twilight press conference Monday outside the State Correctional Institute in Chester, Pennsylvania, where Mill has been sentenced to serve two to four years, Sharpton said the 30-year-old musician has become a symbol for the thousands of people who have been “victimized by abusive probationary and parole systems.”
“He’s representative of many people in institutions like this that do little or nothing, they’re violated and their lives, their businesses are ruined,” Sharpton said.
A Philadelphia native, Mill was sentenced by Common Pleas Judge Genece Brinkley earlier this month for violating probation on a roughly decade-old gun and drug case.
Neither Mill’s probation officer nor the prosecution had recommended jail for Mill, but Judge Brinkley slammed the rapper for wasting the chances he was given to clean up his act after his original conviction.
Brinkley cited a failed drug test, his failure to comply with a court order restricting his travel and two unrelated arrests. “You basically thumbed your nose at me,” she said.
Mill’s imprisonment has since attracted attention from several high-profile sources, including Sharpton and the rapper Jay-Z. Throughout Pennsylvania, rallies, newspaper opinion pieces, billboards and buses have touted the message “Stand With Meek Mill.”
Mill’s legal team wants Judge Brinkley recused from the case. They filed an emergency motion Monday with Pennsylvania’s Superior Court, contending that Judge Brinkley has not responded to any post-sentencing appeals.
Mill can’t appeal until Brinkley rules on his post-sentence motions, and she “refuses to do so,” the motion states
Attorneys for the rapper insisting that Brinkley has made the case inappropriately personal.
(Associated Press reporter ANTHONY IZAGUIRRE contributed to this report)