Episode two of the podcast, “Deep Dive with Laura Arnold” features a broad conversation focusing squarely on America’s problematic systems of probation and parole.
Each year in the U.S., more than 350,000 people are sent to prison for probation and parole failures, with many of those cases simply involving minor infractions, such as improper paperwork or a missed curfew.
Hip-Hop artist and criminal justice activist Meek Mill knows all about the pitfalls of the current system. He received a multi-year prison sentence himself for minor probation violations, including popping a wheelie on his dirt bike. Meek Mill joined the show’s host, Arnold Ventures co-chair Laura Arnold, to discuss his own personal experiences in attempting to navigate his way through the system, and to explore possible improvements moving forward.
“Ten years of probation set me back many, many, many times on my way to success,” Meek Mill says during the interview. “And me, I was just one of the ones who had the talent, the drive, the dedication, and the strength to overcome everything that I overcame.
“If you don’t believe that people in the world deserve chances, you might have a lot of waking up to do, you know?” – Meek Mill
Fourteen years ago in his hometown of Philadelphia, Meek Mill was at the center of a controversial arrest on gun charges.
Since then, he’s spent his time either incarcerated in prison or released on probation, a situation that forced him to find a balance between the demands of his rising music career and the strict conditions of his release. The case is indicative of a system that many believe sets people up for inevitable failure, a point that was echoed by host Laura Arnold at the end of the episode.
“This system can, and often does, perpetuate a destructive cycle,” Laura Arnold said. “We can all agree that poor decisions should carry consequences, and of course, being offered a second chance does come with certain levels of responsibility. But the punishment should also fit the crime, and doling out multi-year prison sentences for relatively minor infractions flies in the face of fundamental fairness.”
After being released from prison in April, 2018, Meek Mill helped to form the REFORM Alliance, which seeks to dramatically reduce the number of people who are unjustly under the control of the criminal justice system.
Meek has been joined in this effort by entertainers Beyonce, Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, CNN television anchor Van Jones, and many others.
The “Deep Dive” podcast, which is produced by the Arnold Ventures philanthropy, examines critical issues within a number of different areas, including criminal justice, health, public finance and education. The program debuted in April 2019, with an in-depth look at the problem of excessive pricing of prescription medicines.
You can listen to the latest episode, “Probation and Parole in America,” here or on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast app.