Reform Event Recap
On March 13, 2018, BARS proudly co-hosted “Reform: Bringing Injustice to Light” with RocNation to bring attention to rapper Meek Mill’s arrest and the problems with the criminal justice system as a whole. As discussed in our recidivism newsletter, in 2008, Meek was charged with drug dealing and possession. He has been on probation since, making it almost 10 years of correctional supervision, a rather extensive time period that rapper Jay-Z described as “unjust and heavy handed.”³ Meek’s current arrest is on the account of parole violations. These violations include leaving Pennsylvania to perform, violating the travel term, being in a physical altercation at St. Louis international airport in March of 2016, as well as popping a wheelie on a dirt bike and speeding, which is considered reckless endangerment. These charges were dropped in court, however Philadelphia judge Genece E. Brinkley, is responsible for the current sentencing to 2-4 years in prison.
The Reform event included various conversations and discussions about the wrong that has been done to not only Meek, but so many black and brown bodies at disproportionate rates all across the country. The event was streamed live on Tidal and reached an audience all around the country. We heard notable and passionate words from Meek’s mother Kathy Williams, his lawyer Joseph Tacopina, Bryan Stevenson, Al Sharpton, and so many more. Reverend Gregory Holston put it best, stating, “When we say free Meek Mill we should say free every Meek everywhere.” Thank you to all that came out to our event!
Women’s Month Event Re-Cap
This March for International Women’s Month, BARS hosted a panel of several formerly incarcerated women, who shared their experiences with the audience in Houston Hall’s Benjamin Franklin Room. The panel consisted of five women whose process of societal reintegration was aided by the helpful staff at Why Not Prosper, a Germantown based reentry organization that provides housing and other services to women returning home from incarceration. Why Not Prosper’s mission is “to help women from prison systems discover their own strength by providing them with the support and resources that will empower them to become responsible, economically self-sufficient and contributing members of the community.” The women on the panel spoke to the audience about their experiences before, during, and after incarceration; shedding light particularly on the impact of drug related offenses on women. The dialogue also addressed healthcare in prison, the process of returning home and finding the appropriate support systems, as well as the importance of building bonds while unlearning the anti-social behaviors necessary for survival behind the walls. The differences between the treatment of men and women in the criminal justice system was also discussed in length. The majority of the panel can be heard below.