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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  October 30, 2021 11:00pm-12:00am PDT

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like, base feelings, the underlying feeling is just of gratitude that he was in my life, even for a brief moment in time. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline." i'm natalie morales. thank you for watching. >> how do you explain why your case has become so important? >> this is the same thing that thousands of minorities are going through. they just don't have anybody to speak on their behalf. >> now they do? >> yeah, now they do. >> rap star, #symbol, meek mill inspired a movement. >> he's been wronged by the criminal justice system for a decade now.
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>> evwin his first post-prison interview, he tells his powerful story. >> have you seen somebody with their brains blown out? i've seen it multiple times. >> he has this energy about him. >> sentenced to prison for a probation violation. >> it's like mental torture. >> it's effecting him like my life. >> it affects all of us. >> i'm still doing time for that case. >> he violated, he got a stuff sentence. what's wrong with that. >> we take you inside his emotional journey to freedom. we're there for every step. >> kevin hart, jay-z, owner of the patriots. >> i feel like god put me in the position to be the voice for the voiceless. this is way more bigger than me.
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>> hello and welcome to "dateline. " countless young musicians dream of fame and fortune. meek mill was living the fantasy. he went from rapping on street corners to rubbing elbows with some of the biggest names in hip-hop. then suddenly the rising star found himself in a spotlight he never imagined. what happened to meek mill and how he fought back struck a cord that had nothing to do with music. here's lester holt with dreams and nightmares, the meek mill story. >> we're here to demand justice. >> his plight sparked headlines around the world and protests in the streets. his cases defining a cause for millions, demanding reform. charging the criminal justice system is corrupt; that mass incarceration and a punitive
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probation system are unfairly ensnaring minorities. >> we're sick of a system that over incarcerates black and brown people. >> his name is robert rameek williams, also known as meek mill a philadelphia rapper who has sold millions of albums. in november 2017, he was thrown in prison for probation violations. but the free meek mill movement gave hope to many that justice is on the way. >> in 25 years in working in criminal justice reform, i can't remember a moment that has the potential to galvanize the public the way meek mill's horrible situation has done and is going to do. >> we're with meek mill as our
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cameras go behind the scenes to capture his journey to freedom. >> this is so crazy. >> how easy it is to get in the system is probably 100 times harder to get out, even if you're innocent. >> dreams and nightmare sthz titles of meek mill's hit debut album. his lyrics tell the story of an inner city native who made it, overcoming violence--. >> it's been a long time since i heard something that naturally charged. the song is pure adrenalin. kind of mad we didn't have that for ourselves. >> like meek mill, quest love and black thought of the roots are from philadelphia. >> i think his style was uniquely philadelphian. but a
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cadence a register that he was rapping in that felt fresh. >> the talent came as surprise to his mother and sister. when did you both realize he had this musical talent? >> when i was going to a party and they were like she doesn't have to pay. this is meek's sister. and i found out that he rappedality the club. you had never heard his tape? >> no. when he was only five years old, a bull lt killed his father. was that his first exposure violence? >> i wouldn't say that because in the area we lived in there was always violence and shooting. one of my brothers got murder. in the area we were in, that's all it was about, was murder. meek saw music as
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his way out. >> see i'm the king -- >> he paid his world in songs, first on the corner, and then in local clubs. he also caught the eye of hip-hop mogul, jay-z, who signed him to his management company, roc nation. there were red carpets, celebrity friends, and one very high-profile romance with hip-hop star, nicki minaj. with stardom came new connections to powerful people. like mike rubin, billionaire and co-owner of the philadelphia 76ers. the two met at a game and instntdly hit it off. what was your first impression? >> my first impression is you can't judge a book by its cover. he's a hard core rapper. yet, this guy was asking so many great questions, it reminded me of myself. >> the two were an unlikely pair. two sons of philadelphia with dramatically different upbringings. >> did you come to think
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there's two philadelphias, the one you grew up in and the one he grew up in. >> whether there were two worlds, the way he's been treated, and the way i'm treated, the biggest success i've had, are completely different ways of being treated. >> he says he had never been in trouble with the law but meek had. he told rubin he had been on probation for years. >> we went to this place in atlantic city and he's like i'm not allowed to go. i was like do you need a note from your mother he's like no, i'm on probation. >> he was ordered to court on a hearing on a probation violation. >> he got up in front of me and said all kinds of great things about meek mill and said we recommend no sentence. then the district attorney got up and said we recommend no sentence.
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i looked that team of lawyers and said why are we here? >> but the judge said meek needed to be punished. she brought down the hammer and sentenced him to two to four years in prison. >> and-she said two to four years in state prison, i looked up at meek and he may not wanted to admit this, but his eyes turn red and i started basically tearing up and crying. i said i got you. like, i'm not going to stop until we fix this together. coming up, meek mills back behind prison walls. >> what's your life like? >> i look back at the case that started it all. did the judge actually gave me can break? when dateline continues. when dateline continues. when dateline continues. maureen the merrier. food is her love language. and she really loves her grandson.
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meek mill was sent to prison, an entire movement setting off a social media fire storm, including meek's friend, comedian kevin hart. >> really trying to get this sentence reevaluated. look, it's just not fair. >> jay-z wrote in the "the new york times" meek mill is just one example of how our criminal justice system entraps and harasses hundreds of thousands
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of black people every day. >> when i reads jay-z's "the new york times" op-ed, i thought this is serious. >> meek had been thrown into prison for what many saw as petty offenses. he had recently arrested twice, once for an airport scuffle and one for popping a wheelie on a new york city street. both charges had been dropped. but the judge had sent him to prison anyway. michael rubin struggled to wrap his head around it. >> put murders in prison, rapists. don't put somebody in prison because they had a technical probation violation. >> meek was sent to this pris for his two to four-year sentence. i first spoke to him in april, 2018. what is your life like there?
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>> like a caged animal. jail time. >> why was meek even on probation? it was for a crime that happened years earlier when he was 19. on the night of january 24th, 2007, he was walking out of his cousin's house. a gun in his waist band, when he says a grey charger suddenly pulled up and cops from philadelphia's narcotics field unit jumped out, they were acting on a claim they saw him sell drugs down the street. >> i put the firearm on the ground and they ran up on me and took me to ground and, like put the cuffs on me behind my back and wired me to fronted door like, with my head down. when i came in, it was brutal. it got brutal. it got knocked out about three or four times.
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you know no one asked me how did my face get beaten in like that? it was just known that a black guy had a mug shot like that >> the officeren the scene, reggie graham claimed meek point ood gin at him. he was charjed with 19 counts. they say you pointed the gun at them. did you? >> you think that's true? a black male at 8:00 at night with a full -- at least three cops at one time with firearms drawn, do you think i pointed a gun at cops and left there without being riddled with bullets? we wouldn't even be having this conversation. >> he placed his fate in the hands of judge brinkley. >> i've known her honor for decades. and obviously, she had a reputation for always being tough. >> bryan and jordan are meek's
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current defense attorneys. they did not represent him at his trial. >> some people say she's no nonsense. is that a fair thing to say? >> i think that's a fair description. >> only one witness testified against meek. reggie graham, the arresting officer. when meek took the stand, he admitted he had a gun but denied pointing it at anyone and he also denied selling drugs the day before his arrest. >> meek has always professed his innocence. >> was this meek's word against a police officer's word? is that what it came down to? >> it really did. it was a bench trial and a one-witness case. and obviously they returned a verdict. >> the trial lasted a day. and robert williams, aka meek mill
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prosecutors asked for 5 to 10 years in prison, but judge put wrinkly gave him a break, she sent isn't to 11 to 23 months in a county jail, then after lesson six months she ordered his release. >> she could've put him in jail for a lot of years and she didn't, and i look at that i think it sounds like she did him a favor. >> problem wasn't the jail sentence imposed it was the enormous amount of probation placed on top of it. >> eight years of probation, we should praise montana short leaves requiring him to follow the court's rules, among them random drug tests, travel restrictions and he had to submit his travel schedule for court approval. any misstep could send him to prison. so, what exactly is a technical violation of one's probation? >> technical violation can be
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anything. could be being late for a curfew. it can be being out of the jurisdiction, it can be something as minor as not being on time for a probation meeting. >> meek mill returned to his life as a rapper, but it wasn't long before he got in trouble. judge brinkley found him in technical violation multiple times. in november 2012, she banned meek from touring for a month after he was arrested for suspected marijuana use but nevr charged. in 2014, she sent meek to jail for four to six months for testing positive for opioids and added more years to his probation. and two years later, she slapped him with house arrest without permission to work for 90 days. again, for travel violations. and for giving a fake urine sample. and again, added more years to his probation. >> a lot of law-abiding people
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who hear this story and think technical or not, you knew what the rules were, you violated them. how do you explain that? >> you know, we've never made any excuses for anything. they're expected to tow a line. but when you put somebody on a tight rope, and i don't mean probation, but tight rope for their entire adult life, they are going to fall off. >> according to the bureau of justice statistics, meek was one of a staggering number of people on probation, one-third were african-americans. >> it's two americas. you got an america where they smack you in the face with a pistol so fast for horrendous crimes and getting away with it. and that's just on our side of america. >> what he always said to me
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michael, there's two americas. but there's not. he says there's america and black america. i got to tell you something he was right and i was wrong. >> so, while the rapper sat in prison serving his two to four-year sentence for a probation violation, an investigator looking into his original conviction was about to make a discovery that could change everything. >> how solid was the cases against 19-year-old meek mill? a key witness comes under scrutiny. coming up. >> the only witness against meek was the police officer who arrested him. >> i distinctly remember him saying we arrested his kid, saying we arrested his kid, beat his kid and ripped braids
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lucky. unlike many in the probation system, he had money and powerful people working to clear him, including michael rubin. >> look, there's been a huge refocus on this every single day. people are talking dozens of times a day fighting for him because we all felt so personally appalled by what happened to him. >> he joined a team rubin and
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rocnation bank rolled. he spent months combing through documents, tracking down witnesses. >> the only witness against meek was the police officer, reggie graham. >> he served in the narcotics field unit. the investigator tracked down a former undercover officer who worked with him for years. >> we worked in the squad together and talked to him every day. >> jeffrey walker wasn't involved with meek mill's case but remembers graham him talking about his arrest. >> i remember sitting at my desk and reggie graham is on paper work and reggie graham is talking about a kid named meek mill. i distinctly remember him saying he arrested this kid and beat his kid and ripped a row of braids out of this kid's hair. >> he says graham was a dirty cop and he should know because he was one too. >> i participated with him in one particular job where i
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watched reggie fabricate evidence. >> in 2013, walker was arrested for stealing money from a drug dealer. in exchange for a lighter prison sentence, he pled guilty to federal robbery and so far his information has led to more than 1,000 overturned convictions in philadelphia. she was learning more about what was going on inside the police department at that time and specifically reggie graham. >> in the middle of 2013, reggie graham's last appears as a testifying witness for the commonwealth of pennsylvania, which suggested to us that prosecutors had some doubts about his credibility. >> there were rumors that the district attorney's office compiled a list of cops too unreliable to testify in
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criminal cases. brendall kim got that list. and guess who's name was on it? none other than reggie grahams. how did that effect meek mill's case. >> one of the things our investigation uncovered is that there were doubts about officer reggie graham's credibility going all the way back the time that meek was arrested and even before he was arrested. it's fair to say he was already a questionable witness at the time he makes this arrest. and we know this because graham failed a lie detecter test about conduct that occurred meek's arrest. they also learned that the philadelphia police's internal affairs unit investigated graham, he was never charged, and soon after graham retired leaving the force and fidelity >> we identified where reggie graham is now living. and i flew down to see them. >> reggie graham did not answer our numerous attempts to reach
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them but he did talk to luke brendal kim. >> he adamantly denied he ever made a single bad arrest. he made thousands of arrests and not one could he think of where there was a problem with the search warrant or the circumstances didn't play out exactly as was written in the police documentation. >> he absolutely denies? >> absolutely denies. february 2018 meeks legal team filed a motion based on the new information, they asked judge brinkley to toss mcneill's conviction and grant him bail. even the district attorney's office agreed the conviction should be overturned, but judge brinkley who'd overseen meeks case for over a decade deny the motion for bail. and set a date for a hearing. meek would remain in prison. >> it's something that i've never seen a judge do. one of meeks lawyers's judge tacopino, he says the judge has
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become a big part of the problem for meek. he thinks the rules were designed to make meek fail promotion, again and again. there is one occasion where he went to los angeles for a series of shows, one of them was canceled, he wanted to come back home a day early, and he was not allowed. judge brinkley didn't allow him to come back to philadelphia day early. >> another time, he says, the judge tendons the rapper to community service, and then surprised him. >> he was sentenced, as part of his probation, to go to a homeless shelter to assist a homeless. >> judge brinkley showed up at the homeless shelter to prove that he was working at the homeless shelter. >> i've never had 38 years of practicing law, seen criticism leveled out a judge to this degree, this is really ferocious. >> judge trudeau's judge brinkley's attorney, she he says she is ethically prevented from discussing her case publicly. he and says she's done nothing
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wrong here, if anything she tried to help meet male. >> judge brinkley believes with that when she has done is proper, she gave him an rope to hang himself, she gave him a chance, now she's yank that chance and said now you sure you're going to serve the sentence you should've had in the beginning. >> meeks attorneys filed our motion with the pennsylvania supreme court, asking that he be released from prison on bail. >> the system has really failed him at every step of the way, and it's set him up for a situation where he was destined to fail and destined to be thrown back in jail based on minor technical violation. >> meanwhile a mixed friend michael reuben kept the case in the headlines, with a parade of high-profile prison visits. like with patriots owner robert kraft.
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>> this guy is a great guy, he shouldn't be here. >> and with meeks friend, kevin hart. >> the frustration for me is why is he still there? literally, it's the craziest thing i've ever seen in my life. >> the day of hearts visit was an exciting one in philadelphia, rubin's team, the 76 years, we're looking to close out the first round of the playoffs. so, after the prison visit, reuben went back to the office to get ready. and that's when, at about 3 pm, he got the call, the pennsylvania supreme court had just issued a ruling in meeks case. >> coming up, an emotional day in the fight for freedom. we >> only got, i never been more excited in my life. >> when dateline continues. wen dateline continues we
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the cause of the accident is under investigation. the uk prime minister boris johnson had some good news about queen elizabeth on saturday, saying she was quote, on very good form. this comes at the after buckingham palace said that her majesty was told by doctors to arrest for another two weeks, following a brief stay in the hospital. now back to dateline. hospital now back twelcome back to datel. i'm natalie morales. rob starr meek mill was in prison for parole violations and his supporters were on a mission to get him freed. his legal team uncovered damaging information about the key witness at his trial almost a decade earlier. now mills controversial case was about to take another stunning turn. once again, lester holt with dreams and nightmares, the meek mills story. >> tuesday, april 24th, 2018.
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michael rubin was getting ready for the biggest basketball game in philadelphia in years, when his phone rang. it was the news he had been hoping for. the pennsylvania supreme court ruled philly's new favorite sun should be released on bail. >> the first thing in my mind was meek is going to be at game five for the philadelphia 76ers to close out the miami heat. >> you want him at the game, here? >> i was knew our players would want him to be here. i know the city would want him. eric >> it'll be out with an hour, so everyone is still making it here today. >> at rubin's office, it was a flurry of activity. he allowed our cameras to film l. >> you guys understand this is literally the closeout game? >> game. five meek mill. >> is it going to be a special day in philadelphia. >> to get to that prison, rubin had something special in mind for his friend. tell me about the helicopter? >> it's funny, the story
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between the helicopter is meek told me that in prison he kept having the stream and that came to get him in the helicopter. >> call josh harris's office right now. >> i'll call josh. hold on. >> so i called my partner, josh harris, who owns harris casino, right across the street from the jail. and when even within ten minutes the set of two for us to land. their >> tip off was only three hours away. >> on the helicopter, six years star point guard ben simmons facetimed rubin. >> going to pick him up right now! he's gonna be at the game! you have to win by 50. we're on the helicopter right now. we're going literally to pick him up right now. 100 percent. [laughs] >> oh, my gosh. i've never been more excited in my life. >> minutes away from the prison, rubin gets a call from kevin hart, who had visited meek just hours earlier. >> we're going into the jail right now.
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literally, everyone's going crazy. >> this, do you understand how big this is? >> yes. >> there's no discussion. [applause] >> the news was barely an hour old by the time rubin arrived at the prison. but fueled by social media, big crowds had already beaten him there. >> free meek! free meek! >> an hour later, meek mill, the face of a new movement, climbed into rubin's waiting suv, a free man. >> it doesn't even feel real man. >> the helicopter right here? >> right here. >> with about an hour left until game time, meek still in his prison clothes, boarded rubin's helicopter. >> this is too crazy, man. too much for me. >> did you think this morning when you woke up that you would be out? >> no. >> what did i tell you then? >> you might be at the game
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tonight. i said, that's impossible. >> he said he found out about his released just like most of his supporters. >> i was going to go police, then i went to my cell -- >> what time did you wind up knowing the? >> away in my cell and i heard the news and it came on the news. >> i told you. i was just laying in the cell there with my eyes closed. i didn't even know what to think. >> meek's release was breaking news in philadelphia. helicopters tracked his drive to the arena. >> hold on, you got jeff -- >> inside the car, the coal sport in. from his mom. >> all right, mom. >> his sister. >> it's a national holiday right. now >> i know, it's crazy. i can't even imagine what's going on. i can't comprehend. >> and of course, his friend, kevin hart. >> first of all, i did it. [laughs] >> you taken all the credit? >> i did it. >> how does his outfit look?
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he's in a jill outfit. >> what's up? >> an hour earlier, meek mill was in a prison cell. no he was walking into the philadelphia 76s locker room. >> he walks into our venue. literally goes in the back, has a barber come in and fix his here up. takes a shower in the players locker room. >> we home. we home. >> as someone bring him clothes. and comes out and rings the bell at 8:00. >> welcome home, meek mill! [applause] [noise] >> 18 hours after he walked out of prison, i sat down with him to talk. so, do you feel free? truly free? >> meek mill gets his first post prison interview and he doesn't mince words. coming up -- >> how do you explain why your case has become so important? >> this is the same thing that
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thousands of minorities are going through on a daily basis. they just don't have anybody to speak on their behalf. >> now they do? >> when dateline continues. means choosing the right medicare plan for you. humana can help. with original medicare, you're covered for hospital stays and doctor office visits but you'll have to pay a deductible for each. a medicare supplement plan can cover your deductibles and co-insurance, but you may pay higher premiums and still not get prescription drug coverage. but with an all-in-one humana medicare advantage plan, you could get all that coverage plus part d prescription drug benefits. you get all this coverage for as low as a $0 monthly plan premium in many areas. humana has a large network of doctors and hospitals, and telehealth coverage with a $0 copay. so call or go online today and get your free decision guide. discover how an all-in-one
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release, meek mill sat down with me for his first post prison interview. >> yeah, it felt like a dream. when i got in my bed at night, which i didn't go to sleep, i close my eyes and i thought, don't let me open my eyes back up and be in the jail cell. like this was just a good dream. because in jail, you dream a lot of being on the streets and then you wake up like -- you back in prison. so, i was playing mind games with myself. but it felt like a dream can chew just to exit that we and get right back to life so quick. it was fast for me. it was overwhelming. but it was enough love and support. and i took it. >> well the pennsylvania supreme court granted him bill, his conviction stood. the court denied his request to remove judge brinkley from his case. and in june, 2018, judge brinkley denied meek mill's appeal asking her to overturn
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his 2008 conviction. >> you're still on bill? >> yes. >> so do you feel free? truly? free >> no, i don't feel free. i didn't feel free since i got this case at the age of 19. i'm 30 now. me, i just -- i pre-. i believe god is my first lord. i always believe that. i don't feel free at all. >> how do you explain why your case has become so important? >> i was a public figure. i'm a rapper. i inspire a lot of people. i inspire a lot of these young children. mike bryant's dream chasers. chasing your dreams no matter what you do in life. no matter what color you races. where you come from. everyone goes to sleep at night that has a dream and something they want to inspire to be. this is the scene think that thousands of other minorities are going through on a daily basis. they just don't have that platform to have anybody speak on their behalf. >> now they do? now -- >> yeah, now they do. at this point, i feel like i'm the sacrifice for a better
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cause. >> a sacrifice for those who grew up just like he did, surrounded by poverty and violence. is a theme consistent throughout his music. >> i come from an environment where actually killing each other. our own people are killing each other. when you hear these young kids talking about guns and things in that music, there's a reason for that. when you hear them talk about death a lot, there's a reason for that. because this is what we went through. the environment i come from, it's really rough. >> that rough childhood may have led meek into trouble with the law. back after he served his time in 2009, he never imagined his probation would be its own type of prison. what's a probation winter you? >> i thought the definition of probation was to help better you. keep you on track. to not destroy you. >> instead of helping him succeed, meek says he quickly found the terms of his probation to restrictive. both professionally and
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personally. >> some of the issues you had were simply reporting? you are required to notify if you are going to go to another state? >> it's a perfect example. the new jersey bridge is a walking distance, about four blocks east. my son goes to school in new jersey. my mother lives in new jersey. i have to call someone every day just go pick my son up from school. >> because this another state? >> i shouldn't have to call to pick myself up from school. >> another requirement of his probation was to be drunk free. >> admits he got hooked on painkillers. but he didn't admits why he was punished. addiction didn't make him a criminal, he says. he was sick. >> i was addicted to opioids, percocet, on and off. because it's always been a battle with me. i've never been a guy to get hired my whole life. i actually took off in the music industry and i overwhelm myself and i got caught up in the lights, the theme.
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we've seen prince died from taking opioids. i was in the same boat, but it was a battle for me. >> but it got you all back on probation violations? >> yeah, it was a violation every time i got caught taking pills. we set up rehabilitation for me and they cleanse my body. i had therapy and i never touch the percocet again. >> by the time i sat down with him, meek had spent a third of his life under the control of the court system. >> young minorities like us, being away from the ghetto is the most important. opportunity is the most important. if i'm not in the ghetto, around the corner, if i don't live the down the street from, he's a killer, he's a killer, he's a rubber. i don't have to carry a gun. i live a suburban area where i can week up and sit on my step and don't have to hear gunshots. >> meek mill is determined to use his fame and experience to fight for criminal justice reform. and he has found partners. because in philadelphia, change is in the air.
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>> a rock star. a billionaire and a crusading the, now sharing a common cause. fixing the system they see is broken. coming up -- >> is the answer to lock fewer people? up >> the answer is absolutely to lock fewer people. up >> rising up for reform. >> i feel like god put me in the position to be the voice for the voiceless. >> when dateline continues. tinues there can be some not-so-pretty stuff going on inside. it's true, with diabetic retinopathy, excess sugar can damage blood vessels, causing vision loss or even blindness. so remember this: now is the time to get your eyes checked. eye care is important to your long-term diabetes management. see a path forward with actions and treatments that may help your eyes— and protect against vision loss. visit noweyesee.com and take control of your sight.
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after my car accident, settle in kids, you'll be there a while. i wondered what my case was worth. so i called the barnes firm. when that car hit my motorcycle, insurance wasn't fair. so i called the barnes firm. it was the best call i could've made. atat t bararnefirmrm, our r inry a attneysys wk hahard i could've made. atat t bararnefirmrm, to get you the best result possible. call us now and find out what your case could be worth. you u mit bebe sprisised >> for many justice advocates, ♪ the barnes firm injury attorneys ♪ ♪ call one eight hundred, eight million ♪
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meek mill's case represents a path to reform. >> i feel like we're entering a new g age of activism. >> jason is a founding board member of the innocence project. >> young people getting energized, taking to the streets. like they haven't since probably the vietnam era. and now, with one of their heroes, meek mill, going through this nightmare situation and shining a light on this broken system of ours. this criminal injustice system, i call. it >> advocates say the system is a revolving door for people of color. too many of them are incarcerated. and even when they get out of prison, they're stuck in the probation system for years. >> we've got to push back against this politics of fear and anger. >> brian stevenson, founder of the equal justice initiative -- i >> think the case of meek mill represents the critical
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problem we have in america. which is that we have become the most punitive society in the world. we have the highest rate of incarceration in the world. we're throwing away people. the bureau of justice predicts that one in three blackmail babies born in this country is expected to go to jail or prison, and nobody seems to be upset about that. and i just think it's shameful. >> but one person who is making changes is larry, a longtime civil rights attorney, now district attorney of meek mill 's hometown, philadelphia. in may 2019, he filed an appeal with the pennsylvania superior court, asking for a new trial for meek mill. and a new judge. two months later, the court granted both requests. but rather than retry the rapper, the da offered a deal. in august 2019, more than a decade after his original conviction, robert meek mill williams, pleaded guilty to a
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misdemeanor gun violation. in exchange, prosecutors dropped all other charges against him. >> and the sentence is no further penalty. >> outside the courthouse, meek mill thanked his supporters. >> i'm free. i'm not on probation -- [applause] thank you, appreciate that law. >> he'll keep fighting for. them >> i will continue to do what i do with the reform movement. and help the people that helped me. so, i thank you all. >> it's a mission at the district attorney shares. we >> call ourselves the land of freedom, we've got to be the land of freedom. what we are in fact isn't was incarcerated country in the world. >> is the answer to a lot fewer people of? >> the answer is absolutely to lock fewer people up. we've not been focusing on the 6% of criminals that commit 60% of the crime, because we're so busy locking up everybody. >> how do you help people understand that the system can work for them when they're seeing what they believe is a huge injustice? >> you change it. i mean, the only way that you can convince people there's integrity in prosecution's by
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trying to prosecute with integrity. and then up speaking of myself, because i truly view this as a movement. >> shortly after taking office, larry set out this internal memo to this prosecutors. laying out new guidelines that many criminal justice experts have called groundbreaking. >> those guidelines are based on science rather than intuition. >> the new guidelines are designed to reduce the prison population and bring fairness to sentencing. >> we have a policy that you don't ask for more than six months for a technical violation of probation, corporal, absent extraordinary circumstances. and often our position is we don't violate them at all, let's find alternative ways other than jail. other than spending more of the taxpayers money on. jail >> in the case of meek mill's probation, the district attorney's office requested no jail time at all. but the judge sent him a way for 2 to 4 years. it would be your position though that his case stands as a symbol of what's wrong with
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the criminal justice system? >> i think a lot of people view it that way. of course, the irony here is that no one lifted up a poor person. no one lifted up at somebody who's not famous. no one lifted up at someone who is alleged technical violations may have been less serious. >> there are a lot of meek mill's in the system. there >> are a lot of meek mill who's are not privileged and don't have access to resources. >> i salute that guy with all my heart, larry. trying to put a stop to mass incarceration. >> meek understands all too well after his long journey that the justice system that his case is hardly unique. >> i think we always been divided in america. 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 people are in prison. a lot of these laws and policies are made to keep most
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of these minorities trapped forever. >> i think meek mill will lead to criminal justice reform. in a lot of ways like the me too movement. i think he's going to shine a giant like on this incredible problem we have. >> i think he's gonna help to make it significantly better. >> he's able to actually make himself a catalyst for some real change. so, i hope that this is something that he takes for granted. >> is there a special responsibility now? your free. you've had all these people rally to your cause. you feel now that you're on a bigger platform? >> yeah, i feel like god put me in a position to be the voice for the voiceless. >> it's a responsibility, he said, that he takes to hurt. >> at this point, it's not all about me having the light to shine on my situation. it's about the thousands of others that are caught up in that situation. how can we fix young black men going to jail for frivolous
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reasons? and other young children growing up without fathers in their homes. >> what would you see through them in general? >> i would say, let's continue. let's retire the free meek mill hashtag and make it hashtag justice reform. >> that's all for this edition of dateline. i'm natalie morales. thank you for watching. watching >> i'm craig melvin. >> and i'm natalie morales. >> and this is "dateline. " >> my mom is lying here on the floor. there's blood everywhere. >> a stunning twist on a family's desperate search for justice. >> nothing has turned out right. >> she was in a casket like position. her jewelry boxes

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