REFORM Alliance, the criminal justice reform group formed by Meek Mill and Jay-Z, had something to celebrate yesterday when California governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 1950 into law. This is a bill that limits adult probation sentence maximums to one year for misdemeanors and two years for felons.
The organization took to Twitter announcing “MAJOR REFORM VICTORY!” "This bill will help put hundreds of thousands of Californians on probation in positions to succeed and exit the criminal justice system for good,” they went on to state.
The signing of the bill came on the same day that Newsom signed other police and criminal justice reforms including a ban on carotid restraint chokeholds that police use on suspects during arrests. He also enforced a smoother system for the attorney general to investigate officer involved fatal shootings of unarmed individuals.
“I want to thank Governor Newsom for his leadership in signing AB 1950, the most transformative probation bill in this country to date,” Jay-Z said in a statement. "This is a first step that I hope introduces a wave of much needed change throughout the country.”
Newsom also weighed in on the subject stating, “Americans across the country took to the streets this summer rightfully demanding more and better of our criminal justice system–and of ourselves. We heard those calls for action loud and clear and today are advancing reforms to improve policing practices by ending the carotid hold and requiring independent investigations in officer-involved shootings. We are also taking important steps to break the school-to-prison pipeline. Still, we can and must do more.”
REFORM was launched following Meek Mill’s return to prison in 2017 after he violated his parole. In response, the rapper launched a drive for criminal justice response, an effort chronicled in the Amazon docu-series “Free Meek”.
His efforts continued when he unveiled the S.A.F.E.R. Plan in March, a policy recommendation on how to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in prison. Part of the plan was a donation of 130,000 masks to correctional facilities.
Meek has also been outspoken about racial injustice. In June of 2020, he released the song, “Otherside of America” which tackled the issue of racial inequality in the United States. The song was a direct response to the killing of George Floyd and President Trump’s ‘crass” remarks concerning black Americans. The song was critically acclaimed and ranked in music charts.
Jay-Z also has a history of being politically active. He was an early supporter of Barrack Obama. He also supported Hilary Clinton in her 2016 presidential campaign. Clinton praised the musician for addressing racism, oppression and the criminal justice system.
His latest work is a 2020 collaboration with Pharell Williams in the form of the song “Entrepreneur”. The song and its video bring forward a series of black entrepreneurs and highlights their social and business journeys.