NEW YORK – Last week, Judge Genece Brinkley unjustly sentenced Meek Mill to 2-4 years in prison for an insignificant probation violation on an almost decade-old case, going against the recommendation of both the assistant district attorney and probation officer, and sparking national outrage over injustice in our country’s criminal justice system. Color Of Change, the nation’s largest online racial justice organization, has launched a petition demanding Judge Brinkley's removal from the case, which currently has over 36,000 signatures and, today, issued a joint statement with #cut50, a national criminal justice reform effort.
Rashad Robinson, Executive Director at Color Of Change:
"Judge Brinkley’s sentencing decision is a gross abuse of power and she must be removed from this case immediately. Strip away the fame and fortune, and far too many Black people recognize Meek's story and Judge Brinkley’s misconduct from our own lives. As we call for justice for Meek, it is critical to remember that Judge Brinkley is more than just a bad apple. She is a part of a larger a criminal justice system designed to imprison Black people for petty violations or crimes they never committed. The public attention to Meek Mill’s case is an opportunity for all of us to demand broader reforms to our unjust criminal justice system. We need to be calling on local courts, judges, district attorneys, and state legislators to use their power to stop filling prisons with people who have committed minor probation and parole violations.”
Van Jones, President and Co-Founder of #cut50:
“It’s time to turn this moment into a movement. 4.65 million people are on probation or parole nationwide. You’ve got half of the city of Philadelphia’s jail and one out of every three prison beds in Pennsylvania filled by people who committed these technical violations - missing a meeting with their probation officer or traveling somewhere without explicit permission. Meek was sentenced to prison for 2-4 years for three things: getting treatment for an opioid addiction, breaking up a fight, and popping a wheelie to entertain some kids. Now, millions of people are asking themselves: how could this happen? And that gives us an opportunity to spark broader policy changes and tackle the systemic injustice here.”
Shaka Senghor, Dream Corps Fellow at #cut50:
“Millions of men and women around the country walk through life with the heavy burden of a criminal conviction or under close probation or parole supervision. None of these individuals are able to live full, free lives. They’re not incarcerated but they’re definitely still not free. And often - they’re tip-toeing through life. A minor mistake could result in what little freedom they do have being stripped away. It’s a vicious trap. We need to take a look at why this is happening - to so many people - and start fixing it. It starts with Meek - there’s no reason he should be in prison for these minor violations. Judge Brinkley has shown herself to be biased and inappropriate. She should step aside - there’s no way an impartial judge would recommend the same sentence. But we need to take on the whole system of probation and parole. To do that, I’m asking people to share their personal stories with the hashtag #StillNotFree”
Color Of Change is the nation’s largest online racial justice organization. We help people respond effectively to injustice in the world around us. As a national online force driven by over one million members, we move decision-makers in corporations and government to create a more human and less hostile world for Black people in America. Visit www.colorofchange.org/.
#cut50 works to cut crime and incarceration in all 50 states by translating local needs into smart safety solutions. The organization brings together unlikely allies—formerly and currently incarcerated individuals, community members, crime survivors, local elected officials, and law enforcement--to keep communities safe and families together. Visit cut50.org.