Meek Mill on Criminal Justice Reform After Jail Release: 'I'm the Sacrifice for a Better Cause'
Meek Mill is hoping his controversial sentencing for violating parole and stay in prison leads to criminal justice reform overall.
The 30-year-old Philadelphia rapper is sitting down with NBC’s Lester Holt for a special episode of Dateline on Sunday to talk about his time behind bars and the good he’s hoping to do now that he’s out.
In a clip from the episode that premiered on Friday’s Today, Mill explained he feels like he’s “the sacrifice for a better cause.”
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“I was a public figure, I’m a rapper,” he told Holt when asked why his case has become so important. “I inspire, a lot of people don’t know the history, I inspire a lot of these young children. My brand is dream chasers. It’s about chasing your dreams no matter what you do in life. No matter what color your race is, where you come from.”
“Everyone goes to sleep at night and has a dream and has something they inspire to be,” Holt added. “And this is the same thing that thousands of minorities are going through on a daily basis, they just don’t have the platform to have anybody speak on their behalf.”
Of course, Mill is there to speak on their behalf now.
He was released from the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution at SCI Chester on April 24, where he had been confined for the past five months stemming from a November 2017 sentencing for violating probation in a 2008 gun and drug case.
Mills previously spent eight months in jail and five years on probation for the gun and drug case. But he kept violating his probation — first, in 2016, for unapproved travel (which caused a 90-day house arrest).
Violations continued in March 2017, when he was charged with misdemeanor assault after an altercation with employees at St. Louis International Airport. (The charges were dropped after he agreed to perform community service). In August 2017, PEOPLE confirmed that Mill was charged with reckless endangerment in New York City. He later pleaded guilty to reckless driving.
RELATED: Meek Mill Sentenced to 2 to 4 Years in State Prison for Violating Probation
Looking back on it all to Holt, Meek said that he feels the system is broken.
“I think we’ve always been divided in America where it’s always black and white. I don’t really call it black and white. A lot of black people are in prison, a lot of Spanish men are in prison. A lot of these laws and policies are made to keep most of these minorities trapped forever,” he said in another clip from the episode.
“I had eight years of probation, it turned to 16 years of probation,” he said, “Something is not working. I’m still doing time for that case.”
Sunday’s Dateline also features exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of Mill’s release, including the helicopter ride he took with Philadelphia 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin moments after leaving.
“The energy was palpable,” Dateline producer Dan Slepian explained in a clip. “There was a feeling that I cannot describe. This was the beginning of something, not the end of something. An opportunity to talk about criminal justice reform. It was an honor to witness it.”
Dateline‘s “Dreams and Nightmares: The Meek Mill Story” airs Sunday (7 p.m. ET) on NBC.