PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — There’s a new bipartisan effort to reform probation and parole inspired by rapper Meek Mill, and Pennsylvania lawmakers joined criminal justice reform advocates for a press conference outside of the Municipal Services Building on Tuesday.
“I hate that it’s me, a rapper or public figure that had to go to jail for this to become an issue, but this is an issue,” Meek Mill told the crowd. “But it’s normal in our day of life for people losing jobs and homes for not even committing crime.”
Mill was the final speaker at a rally for Pennsylvania House Bill 1925. With bipartisan support, the proposed law would likely cap probation and parole time and provide fixes to a system that reincarcerates thousands for technical – i.e, non-criminal – violations.
“I’m only here to use my voice for the people who don’t have a voice,” said Mill, who notes that thousands of men and women are being jailed in Pennsylvania for technical violations.
“This is guy who got sent to prison for what, popping a wheelie,” said Michael Rubin, co-owner of the Sixers. He admitted that he was shocked to learn that the criminal justice system was jailing people for non-criminal acts. He says seeing Mill go to prison changed his life.
So he joined forces with Mill and Jay-Z to form the Reform Alliance to change things.
“The problem is the system, that’s what needs to be fixed,” he said.
“Probation is the quick sand of the criminal justice system,” said Jordan Harris, a Pennsylvania House member (D-Phila). “Once you get in it’s hard to get out, and the harder you try to get out, the more it pulls you back in. That’s what this bill will change.”
.@MeekMill speaks in Philly today in support of Pa HB1925, a bipartisan effort lead by @RepHarris to reform probation and parole. His org @REFORM @MichaelGRubin @VanJones68 and others support it. More on @KYWNewsradio on am drive. #JusticeReform #ParoleReform #FightDifferent pic.twitter.com/Zfk4rBTduE
— Cherri Gregg (@cherrigregg) April 2, 2019
Harris is the prime sponsor of the bill and has rallied bipartisan support, including Reps. Sheryl Delozier (R-Cumberland County), Mike Jones (R-York) and others. While particulars of the bill needs to be hammered out, all agree they will get it done this term.
Harris was part of a similar effort, which ended in the Clean Slate Law, which seals record of second- and third-degree misdemeanors criminal convictions after 10 years without a subsequent arrest.
A similar probation reform bill that would cap probation time and eliminate jail for technical violations was introduced in the Pennsylvania Senate in January.