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Philly’s Meek Mill scores a victory for criminal justice reform

Meek Mill and Jay Z’s REFORM Alliance win in California with AB 1950.

Beyond the music and culture of hip hop, North Philadelphia’s Meek Mill has been devoted to the ideas directly informing prison reform and judicial harassment. Mill lived it: after a 2008 conviction for drug dealing and gun possession (with an 11 to 23 months sentence in prison, followed by eight years of probation), Mill was found to have violated his probation in 2012 and had his travel permit revoked. Blame the judge. By 2017, he was sentenced again to two to four years in prison for violating parole and served five months at the State Correctional Institution in Chester, PA. Blame the same judge. This continued through 2018 when Mill was released pending his appeal to the Pennsylvania supreme court – with Philly DA Larry Krasner – petitioning the judge, the same judge, for Mill’s release, due to major credibility issues with the arresting officer in Meek’s initial 2008 conviction. By 2019, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania granted Mill’s appeal, overturning that 2008 conviction with a new trial and fresh judges, and before you could say, “innocent,” the Amazon Prime Video docuseries “Free Meek” was up and running, a five-part series produced by Roc Nation, with Mill and Jay-Z serving as its executive producers.

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The Hova and Millie bond is a crucial one, as they are bound professionally/musically as well as politically to the criminal justice reform organization REFORM Alliance — an organization headed up by its CEO, journalist, Van Jones. On September 30th, the REFORM Alliance celebrated its first major legislative victory when California Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 1950 into law. This new law, a major campaign initiative from the REFORM Alliance, limits adult probation sentence maximums to one year for misdemeanors, as well as two years for felonies. To go with that criminal justice reform, Governor Newsom also signed additional bills banning police officers’ use of chokeholds during arrests and another stating that Cali’s Attorney General can independently investigate police shootings.

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Jay and Meek. You made justice moves. Now make some music.


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