On Tuesday (Jan. 29), a new legislation was presented that aims to alter the course of those within Pennsylvania’s probation system. According to KYW Newsradio, the state’s senate publicized a bill that will grant no more than five years on probation “for felonies and three for misdemeanors.”
In an address, Sen. Sharif Street highlighted rapper Meek Mill’s legal situation as the inspiration behind Senate Bill 14. “The time he served because of technical violations greatly extended the amount of time he would have served,” Street said. “When we have high-profile cases that draw our attention to circumstances that should not apply to any Pennsylvanian, it’s up to us to address those circumstances.” For those with good behavior on probation, their length of state supervision can get reduced under the legislation.
In 2017, Meek Mill faced a two to four year prison sentence for a probation violation, a moment that sparked a national conversation on the criminal justice system which eventually inspired his new initiative, REFORM. After rumblings of the bill broke, the “What’s Free” artist took to Twitter to share not only the news but his current plight.
“I’ve been on probation 11 years and sent to prison 3 times without committing crime…,” he wrote. “This will directly effect people growing up in bad environments going in and out of prison for minor mistakes ‘not crime.’ ” His time on probation stems from a gun and drug charge ten years ago.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette revealed that over 44,000 people in Philadelphia are on probation. Across the state, 269,000 people are in the probation system.
Meek Mill’s case also inspired Jay-Z, his fellow REFORM organizer, to write an op-ed for The New York Times. “What’s happening to Meek Mill is just one example of how our criminal justice system entraps and harasses hundreds of thousands of black people every day. I saw this up close when I was growing up in Brooklyn during the 1970s and 1980s,” he wrote. “Instead of a second chance, probation ends up being a land mine, with a random misstep bringing consequences greater than the crime. A person on probation can end up in jail over a technical violation like missing a curfew.”
This is great news! I’ve been on probation 11 years and sent to prison 3 times without committing crime … this will directly effect people growing up in bad environments going in and out of prison for minor mistakes “not crime” https://t.co/nFNwxMdoDR
— Meek Mill (@MeekMill) January 30, 2019
— Sen. Sharif Street (@SenSharifStreet) January 28, 2019