Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed a probation reform bill on Thursday with support from rapper Meek Mill, who became a reform advocate after a misdemeanor arrest in 2007 kept him in prison or on probation for much of his adult life.
Northam cited mass incarceration’s disproportionate effect on people of color and the harm of having “technical violations” such as missing a meeting send people on probation back to prison.
“Justice must be fair, it must be equitable and punishment must meet the crime,” the governor said.
Meek Mill, born Robert Williams, spoke about his commitment to fixing a system that restricted his freedom. Long after his release from prison, he could not travel 10 minutes from New York to New Jersey to pick his daughter up from school, he said.
Northam ceremonially signed House Bill 2038, which “limits the amount of active incarceration a court can impose as a result of a revocation hearing for a probation violation.” Under the legislation, probation must be limited to five years from when someone is released from incarceration. Go here to see full text of the bill.
Stay with NBC Washington for more details on this developing story.