Meek Mill is seeing the impact of his advocacy with the Reform Alliance firsthand. On Friday, the rap star joined Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro during a press conference after the governor signed SB838, a new probation reform bill, which limits the length of probation and prevents people from being sent back to jail for minor violations.
Mill reflected on the fact that every time he crossed from New York to New Jersey to pick up his son for school during his probation, he was “committing crime the whole time due to technical violations.”
“I thought that it was either I go to jail and I take my son to school and I ended up taking my son to school so I want to thank you guys here today. I don’t want to get emotional because it’s a lot,” Mill said before pausing to collect himself and wipe away his tears. “We all grew up in the streets and we tried to be better, but they labeled us as felons and sent us back to jail. 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.”
“I don’t even drop tears, but I want to say this because there are a lot of young men who follow me in the streets: They don’t really know what I go through to be in these places with government officials and to change my life,” he added. “I didn’t ask for this position… It’s not for clout, it’s something that I stand and live for.”
The special moment on Friday arrived nearly a year after the previous governor Tom Wolf pardoned Mill, who had served eight months in prison in 2008 after being convicted for drug and weapon possession charges.
In 2012, Mill was detained for suspected marijuana use. The arrest allegedly caused him to miss out on tens of thousands of dollars he would have earned from the Atlanta gig and cost him a significant amount of money in an endorsement deal with Puma, which reduced the amount it wanted to pay him from $2 million to $650,000, according to The Inquirer.
He was put on house arrest in 2016 for violating his probation and was arrested again in 2017 after he was caught popping wheelies without wearing a helmet on Instagram Live. He was charged with a felony count of reckless endangerment, though the charge was later reduced to a misdemeanor. He then went to prison later that year for violating his probation.
In 2019, Mill had his 2008 conviction overturned and faced a new trial by a different judge.
Mill launched a non-profit organization, Reform Alliance, to help “transform probation and parole by changing laws, systems, and culture to create real pathways to work and wellbeing” in 2019. The organization takes aim at the effect of probation laws, which often become a pipeline to returning former inmates to prison.