Robert Rooks and Meek Mill have launched a new campaign for the REFORM Alliance. On April 27, which marked three years since Mill’s release from prison, the pair announced their latest campaign, “Give Life Back,” which is meant to “inform, inspire, and activate” people to fight for parole and probation reform.
Rooks, who is the CEO of REFORM Alliance, released a 90-second video along with a statement for the campaign. The video, which is titled “Technically Illegal,” gives the audience a look at the everyday actions that are considered illegal for people who are on parole or probation.
The clip lists that “being in the presence of alcohol,” having “contact with others on parole or probation,” “breaking curfew,” “being late for a parole meeting,” were all enough reason, according to law, to send someone back to jail. It also notes there are people who are sent back to jail “every four minutes” for “technical violations” similar to these. As the video states, Rooks and Mill believe “everyday life shouldn’t be treated like a crime.”
Mill, who’s had experience with getting in trouble for violating his probation, also made a statement. He said, “The probation system isn’t designed to rehabilitate, it’s intended to reincarcerate. For our team at REFORM, it’s important to educate the public about these issues because no one should ever be sent back prison for non-violent, technical probation offenses like being late to a meeting with a probation officer or being unable to pay a fine.”
A 19-year-old Mill in 2007 was arrested on drugs and gun charges. He was on probation for over a decade, and at age 30 he was sentenced to two to four years in prison for a series of probation violations that included, among other things, riding a dirt bike on a New York street. In 2019, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge and his remaining counts were dismissed. Upon his release from prison he partnered with music mogul Jay-Z, and together they launched the REFORM Alliance movement.
For the “Give Life Back” campaign, Rooks stated, “Transforming the failed and costly parole and probation system to provide people with a meaningful and effective pathway to take care of themselves and their families would give life back to millions of people throughout this country. The outcome of replacing the current broken system with one that is restorative, accountable and focused on making the right investments will mean increased stability, stronger families and safer communities.”
REFORM Alliance co-chair Michael Rubin added, to transform “our criminal justice system, we must also reform the cultural perception of probation. Our hope is that REFORM’s Give Life Back initiative will continue to raise awareness to the flaws within our probation system and pave the way for a collaborative, bipartisan solution.”