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Jul 21, 2024  |  
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Misty Severi, Breaking News Reporter


NextImg:Gov. Josh Shapiro joined by rapper Meek Mill as he signs probation reform

Gov. Josh Shapiro (D-PA) was joined by an emotional guest during his signing of a major probation reform bill on Friday, which includes a reduction in the kinds of parole violations that could send a convict back to prison.

Rapper and prison reform advocate Meek Mill was choked up during the signing of the legislation in Philadelphia. The rapper was convicted of gun and drug charges in 2008 but was sent back to prison in 2017 for violating his parole and sentenced to two to four years. However, he only served five months in prison in 2017 before the state Supreme Court intervened.

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“We try to be better, but they labeled us ‘felons,’ sent us back to jail,” Mill said on Friday. “I had to fight against that the whole time to gain my respect and be who I am today.”


The new law requires courts to conduct mandatory probation reviews after two years for misdemeanors, or 50% of the sentence, whichever is shorter. When it comes to felonies, the law requires the same reviews for felony probation after four years or 50% of the sentence.

It also clarifies to judges that minor technical violations of parole agreements should not result in the individual going back to prison. Minor violations include showing up late to appointments, returning home after curfew, and visiting family that lives out of state without permission.

Mill, whose real name is Robert Rihmeek Williams, said that he technically violated his parole multiple times when visiting his mother, who lived in New Jersey, while on parole and even when taking his child to school.

“We all learned from Meek’s case because it shined a light on the injustices in our probation system,” Shapiro said. “How someone could be sentenced to prison for years for not committing a crime, but for just a technical violation of a long probation.”

Violations that could warrant a return to prison include failure to complete court-mandated treatment or violations for people considered a threat to public safety.

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The Pennsylvania governor also signed a bill on Friday that will automatically clear the criminal records of people who are pardoned. On Wednesday, he passed legislation that expands the types of convictions eligible to be sealed from public view, including minor drug offenses.

Mill has also helped lead prison reform legislation in ten other states through his work as co-chairman of the REFORM Alliance, which he co-founded alongside fellow rapper Jay-Z following Mill's 2017 sentence.