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California Enacts New Probation Laws After Push from Jay-Z and Meek Mill’s REFORM Alliance

REFORM Alliance, the criminal justice organization started by Jay-Z, Meek Mill, and others in January 2019, scored a major victory by having California Gov. Gavin Newsom sign a new bill that cuts probation time in the state.

The bill is called AB 1950, and Newsome signed it on Wednesday, Sept. 30, which cuts adult probation time for misdemeanors from three years to one year. It also cuts probation time for felony offenders from five years to two. The goal is to lower the number of probation violations in California with the bill and make it easier for ex-offenders to start a new life.

Jay-Z (left) and Meek Mill (right) helped to change probation laws in California through their criminal justice organization REFORM Alliance. (Photos: @reform/Instagram, REFORM Alliance’s YouTube page.)

“I want to thank Governor Newsom for his leadership in signing AB 1950, the most transformative probation bill in this country to date,” said Jay-Z in a statement. “This is a first step that I hope introduces a wave of much needed change throughout the country.”

Van Jones, CEO of REFORM Alliance, also sent a statement.

“By signing AB 1950 into law, Governor Newsom has further cemented his legacy as a champion for justice, redemption, and opportunity,” said Jones. “In a year that has been so challenging and difficult for so many, this reform marks a bright spot that will lead to better outcomes for individuals and families across California. I cannot thank the Governor enough for supporting this legislation. I look forward to working with him to make the measure even stronger and more meaningful in the coming year.”

Besides Jay-Z, Mill, and Jones, REFORM Alliance’s other founding partners include co-owner of Philadelphia 76ers Michael Rubin, Brooklyn Nets co-owner Clara Wu Tsai, Galaxy Digital founder Michael E. Novogratz, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, founder of Third Point LLC, Daniel S. Loeb, and Vista Equity Partners founder Robert F. Smith.

Mill has been heavily involved in parole and probation reform since being released from prison in April 2018. He spent five months behind bars for parole violation.

The Philadelphia rapper has been on probation from 2008 until 2019 on a gun charge, and the launch of REFORM Alliance was a response to that lengthy probation.

“@REFORM was inspired by my guy @MeekMill who spent his entire adult life on probation, going in and out of prison, for technical probations# violations (again, not committing a crime),” tweeted Rubin on Tuesday, Sept. 30. “The madness has to end and today was a huge step towards fixing this issue!”

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