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Patriots owner Robert Kraft calls for criminal justice reform after visiting Meek Mill in prison

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft spent some time Tuesday in a Pennsylvania state prison visiting Meek Mill and emerged calling for the rapper’s release and an overhaul of the criminal justice system.

“Makes it clear to me we have to do something with criminal justice reform,” Kraft said. “His kind of case, to be in a situation like this, it’s really bad. I know some of our players in the NFL have talked about this. I see it firsthand that it’s just wrong. We have to find a way to correct it and also help the community help themselves.

“It’s just sad. This guy is a great guy. Shouldn’t be here. And then think of all the taxpayers here paying for people like this to be in jail and not out being productive. It’s just really sad.”

Meek Mill, 30, whose real name is Robert Rihmeek Williams, was sentenced in November to two to four years for probation violations related to gun and drug charges from nearly a decade ago. His case has garnered attention from numerous professional athletes, among others, who feel the Philadelphia-born rapper is being punished excessively.

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Kraft, 76, said he was introduced to Meek Mill several years ago by by Philadelphia 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin, who accompanied Kraft on the prison visit this week.

“He’s an amazing young man,” Kraft said of Meek Mill. “He’s very intelligent. I’ve had the pleasure, through Michael, of getting to know him over the last two to three years, maybe even longer. Every time I see him, I just come away more impressed.”

charles.schilken@latimes.com

Twitter: @chewkiii

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