Meek Mill’s fight for criminal justice reform continues to pay off.
On Thursday, the Philadelphia rapper joined Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam for the signing ceremony of HB 2038, a piece of legislation that aims to improve the state’s probation system. Mill attended the event alongside fellow REFORM Alliance co-chair Michael Rubin, and shared a few words about his experience in the criminal justice system and how he intends to reform it.
“I get paid not a dollar to this … I am a rapper, this is the business I chose, this is the dream I chose, that’s how I got in a position to be here,” Mill said during the press conference. “I try to dance the lines of remaining classy, but still keeping the ear of younger people, and being able to speak to the governor today and being able to close gaps … I have the resources and I’m in position to do better.”
Mill, who was a prominent advocate for HB 2038, also told reporters he was locked up at age 19 for a crime he didn’t commit, and spent nearly 12 years on probation for technical violations. He admitted he made some mistakes in the past, but was able to improve his life and his family’s lives through his rise in music.
“I got my [record] deal in 2012. I was able to feed my family, provide jobs. Of course, I’m not perfect, but being in situations like this would make me become better and speed up the process,” he continued. “I’ll make sure I’ll be able to deliver and close every bridge I can to help fix the system, because I was affected by that.”
HB 2038 will limit probation terms to a maximum of one year for misdemeanor convictions and five years for felonies. The law also puts a cap on the duration of prison sentences stemming from probation violations.
“Our criminal justice system has focused too much on punishment, and too little on grace and compassion,” Northam said during Thursday’s press conference. “Putting people behind bars for minor violations of probation simply exacerbates the problem of mass incarceration, increases costs to the state, and makes it more difficult for people to rebuild their lives. This legislation marks an important step forward in our ongoing work to ensure Virginia’s criminal justice system is fair and equitable.”
HB 2038 will take effect on July 1.