“I was originally scheduled to be part of a panel on Prison Reform at the White House to help shed light on the issues within the system,” Mill said in a statement to NBC News.
“Unfortunately, the focus turned to the President and Myself which concerned me that it might take away from creating a positive result from today’s discussions,” Mill told NBC. “As a result, I decided not to attend so that the focus would be solely on fixing our prison system. Most importantly I remain fully committed to improving our criminal justice system.”
The Friday White House summit brought together dozens of activists, experts and policymakers to discuss prison reform issues. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the summit, with Pence saying prison reform is a top priority for the administration.
TMZ reports that Jay Z had a hand in changing Mill’s mind about attending the event, and called the rapper on Thursday night to say that meeting with the president could hurt Mill’s image and his cause.
Mill was originally convicted in 2008 in a gun and drug case. In 2017, he was arrested again two more times. The 2017 charges, combined with a failed drug test, led to a judge finding Mill in violation of probation. The judge sentenced mill to two to four years in prison, but he was released last month.
Jay-Z, aka Shawn Carter, has been an outspoken supporter of Mill, going so far as to argue on his behalf in a New York Times op-ed in November that “what’s happening to Meek Mill is just one example of how our criminal justice system entraps and harasses hundreds of thousands of black people every day. ... A person on probation can end up in jail over a technical violation like missing a curfew.”
Since his release, Mill has become an advocate for prison reform, calling out inequities within the criminal justice system.
“Although I’m blessed to have the resources to fight this unjust situation, I understand that many people of color across the country don’t have that luxury and I plan to use my platform to shine a light on those issues,” he said in a statement in April.