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Pennsylvania’s probation requirements are changing under a pair of bills signed by Gov. Josh Shapiro at the Constitution Center Friday afternoon. He also signed a measure to automatically clear criminal records for individuals who receive a pardon.
Shapiro was joined by Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill, who has advocated for probation reform for years after he was harshly punished for his probation violation in 2017. Mill was sentenced to two to four years in prison for violating his probation related to a 2008 gun and drug case.
Pa. Governor Josh Shapiro signs justice reforms bill 898 into law surrounded by activists and other lawmakers at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on December 15, 2023. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)
Mill is co-chair for the REFORM Alliance, which has fought to change what they call the “supervision-to-prison” pipeline. He spoke tearfully at times Friday about the struggle returning citizens often face maintaining the probation restrictions put in place.
“Every time I [crossed] the Ben Franklin to go pick my mom up to take my son to school in New Jersey, I was actually committing a crime the whole time from technical violations,” he said.
“I didn’t ask for this position. I don’t want to do it. It’s not for clout. It’s something that I stand for. It’s something that I live for, and I appreciate y’all for helping me.”
The legislation requires mandatory probation review conferences after two years or 50% of a probation sentence, whichever is shorter. It also calls for felony probation reviews after four years or 50% of the sentence.