By John N. Mitchell
PHILADELPHIA — When a state appeals court overturned drug and gun charges this past summer that kept Meek Mill on probation for more than a decade and made him a free man, the rapper thought he had heard the last from Genece Brinkley, the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge who kept him mired in criminal justice hell.
He was wrong.
Last week, Mill and billionaire 76ers partner Michael Rubin visited Michael Hudson, who was sentenced by Brinkley to 1½ to 3 years in prison on a technical violation resulting from his inability to pay outstanding court costs.
“I’m not surprised,” Mill said when he heard that Brinkley was the judge in the case. “We were like two brothers meeting with the same mother. He said this was like he was going to court for a murder. I understand because when you are in this position you don’t know how long you are going to be away from your family. It was the same thing for me.”
Hudson, now 29, was sentenced in 2009 to 2 to 4 years in prison for his role as a lookout in a robbery, but he has been out on probation. He is the father of three children, two of whom have special needs.
However, he has struggled to find steady work. Most recently, he was working as a janitor earning about $600 per month and struggling to make ends meet.
In 2018, Hudson was jailed for six months because he’d fallen behind on his $350 per month child support payments. At the time, he said he had trouble making those payments because he could not come up with the cash to pay off court costs.
Rubin read about his plight last month and paid the updated $2,148.59 in court costs. Hudson, according to Rubin, will go before the state Superior Court “very soon” and the court will rule on whether the punishment was justifiable.
“I can’t understand how people can go to prison for not committing a crime,” Rubin said. “He’s a good person. He wants to be home and taking care of his kids. Instead, he’s in prison for being poor. He couldn’t pay his fines. He doesn’t have his GED and for that he’s in prison. If you are going to send people to prison, don’t send them there for the crime of being poor.”
Mill’s and Rubin’s visit with Hudson lasted for a little more than an hour. Mill and Rubin said that Hudson appeared to be in good spirits and smiled often during their conversation.
“He was,” Rubin said. “But he’s a man who is hurting, who wants to go home to his family as soon as possible. Again, his only crime is that he’s poor. That’s not a good reason to be locked up and held away from your family.”
Of the visit, Mill said, “situations like this keep me grounded and focused on my mission for reform that I dedicated myself to two years ago … Seeing this man trapped behind bars gives me motivation to keep on fighting.”
John N. Mitchell is a reporter and columnist for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.