Thanks to the city earning its first Super Bowl win in history, many in Philadelphia have reason to celebrate. The team and fans have used Meek Mill’s iconic “Death and Nightmares (Intro)” as an anthem throughout the journey, its scrappy defiance symbolizing the attitude of the city. “Hold up wait a minute, y’all thought I was finished,” and similar lyrics could be heard anywhere from the locker room to the streets.  

Notably absent throughout the proceeding has been Meek Mill himself. In November of last year the rapper stood before Judge Genece E. Brinkley, a woman who has overseen Meek’s probation for over a year, after parole violations that included a failed drug test and Meek’s noncompliance to a court order that severely limited his travel.

Not helping matters was two misdemeanor arrests Meek experienced in 2017. The first arrest involved an alleged altercation in the St. Louis airport after an airport employee asked for a photo and Meek refused. The second included reckless endangerment charges issued by the NYPD for popping wheelies on his dirt bike through upper Manhattan. NYPD officials used a story posted on Meek’s Instagram account to identify him a day after the incident.  

For these violations, Meek was given 2-4 years in prison by Judge Brinkley. The sentence shocked many as it directly opposed recommendations by the Assistant District Attorney and Probation Officer who did not want Meek imprisoned as he had been off drugs since January and mostly complied with his probation requirements. The ruling has raised many questions regarding the criminal justice system in Philadelphia. A top public defender noted that Meek’s case represented deep systemic problems with long probation cycles and courts focusing on technical rules instead of a defendant’s actual progress.

Recent developments involving Judge Brinkley and the alleged corruption involving Meek’s initial arresting officer have warranted an appeal date set this April. But that is no surefire guarantee. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that seven times in the past four years has Judge Brinkley sent men to prison for violating parole. Meek’s case, with its long probation period and the resulting punishment, fits the formula Brinkley has followed. Those men have appealed each time and “every time, her decisions have been upheld by a higher court.”