Philadelphia-bred hip-hip artist Meek Mill has become a fierce advocate for criminal justice reform. The rapper—whose real name is Robert Rihmeek Williams—is pushing his fight against the unjust system forward by joining forces with lawmakers to propose a probation and parole reform bill, the Chicago Crusader reported.
The bill is an initiative led by the REFORM Alliance; a group created by Williams, Jay-Z, Philadelphia 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin, Nets co-owner Clara Wu Tsai and Patriots owner Robert Kraft. The alliance was formed to unite leaders across different industries so that they can work towards changing the landscape of our country’s unjust judicial system by shifting laws and policies related to probation and parole. The REFORM Alliance aims to free at least 1 million individuals within the next five years.
Through the proposed bipartisan bill—which was unveiled by Williams, Rubin, Rep. Sheryl Delozier, Rep. Jordan Harris, and Van Jones in Philadelphia this week—courts would be prohibited from giving an individual consecutive probation sentences. Courts would also be barred from extending probation and parole sentences if an individual is facing financial hardships and is unable to pay fees and fines. There are other measures featured in the bill including the prevention of reincarceration for an offender who associates with an individual who has a criminal past or tests positive for marijuana and rewards for good behavior.
Williams’ own experiences with the criminal justice system have inspired him to lead this initiative, especially in Pennsylvania. He was re-imprisoned for miniscule probation violations and received a two-to-four-year sentence in 2017 which sparked the #FreeMeek movement. After he was released he made it his mission to reach back and help other individuals who were in the same predicament but didn’t have the same platform.
“This proposed bill is the first step in changing the criminal justice system and it’s only right that we start in my home state,” Williams said in a statement, according to the news outlet. “I’ve lost too much time away from my son, my family, my friends and fans in Philly because of outdated probation laws, so I want to make sure people don’t have to go through what I did.”
Pieces of legislation like the one that he and other leaders are introducing are needed. According to the REFORM Alliance, Pennsylvania has the third highest rate of community supervision in the country costing $200 million each year. Furthermore, there are currently 296,000 people on parole or probation within the state.