Meek Mill’s advocacy for criminal justice reform helped his home state of Pennsylvania reach a pivotal milestone on Friday (Dec. 15), when Governor Josh Shapiro held a ceremonial signing of the Comprehensive Probation Reform and Clean Slate legislation.
The first bill limits technical violations that result in the formerly incarcerated being sent back to jail for nonviolence infractions, mandates review conferences once 50 percent of a probation sentence has been served, allows a judge to determine probation conditions per case and allows the court to terminate a probation sentence early before related costs and fees have been covered by poverty-stricken defendants. The second bill, the Clean Slate legislation, ensures that pardoned individuals’ criminal records are automatically expunged.
“We are taking common sense steps to remove these unnecessary barriers for Pennsylvanians who want to rebuild their lives and who want to meaningfully contribute to our communities. And because of these bills, more people will get to spend the holidays with their families. More parents will get the jobs they want. More people will get back on their feet,” said Shapiro at a press conference attended by Mill and other legislators and activists.
The announcement of the state’s life-changing laws moved the “Dreams and Nightmares” rapper to tears. Having spent most of his adult life on probation, he shared, “I’m at a point in my life, like, we all grew up in the streets, and we try to be better, but they labeled us felons [and] sent us back to jail,” said Mill. “I had to fight against that the whole time to gain my respect and be who I am today. And I’m proud of that.”
He later tweeted, “I don’t know how I cried on the news. I ain’t even cry in my cell! I needed that!” The 36-year-old was first sentenced in 2008 to 10 years of probation and a year in jail. An additional two to four years were tacked on in 2017. He was pardoned in January 2023 by then-Governor Tom Wolf.
Mill serves as co-chair of REFORM Alliance, an organization co-founded by Robert Kraft, JAY-Z and others to push for improved probation and parole legislation.