By Gregory Muhammad, Student NOI Regional Prison Reform Minister Delaware Valley Region
PHILADELPHIA–The Nation of Islam Prison Reform Ministry Delaware Valley Region was present at the “Free Meek Mill Rally,” while Meek was inside of the courthouse waiting for a decision in his case.
Why a decade-long legal battle to reach this “victory?”
The Pennsylvania Probation/ Parole Supervision is very “unfair” to all probationers and parolees where the conditions of “supervision is concerned.”
A violation of probation or parole can land you back in prison for the duration of the time a “probationer or parolee” has left on their original sentence to serve. A violation can be as simple as failing to report to your “probation officer or parole officer on time.”
In a situation like this, the probationer or parolee may be at work and unable to get off from work to make his/her probation/ parole appointment with their probation or parole officer. This is very unfair. A condition of probation and parole stipulates that you must be employed. To leave your place of employment before your shift ends can cause you to be fired. That’s a violation of your probation or parole.
Meek Mill’s situation is only a reflection of the hundreds and thousands of young Black men and women who are also victims of this “unjust and unfair” system of probation and parole supervision. There must be reform. The victory for Meek Mill goes far beyond his personal situation. He was able to pay for expensive lawyers to represent him, but hundreds and thousands of others cannot. But his victory Aug. 29 will help carry forward the “fight for probation and parole reform with extended leverage” as Meek supports Pennsylvania State Representative Jordan Harris’ House Bill 1555.
“On May 30, 2019 Representatives Sheryl Deloszier (R-Cumberland), House Democratic Whip Jordan Harris (D-Phila-delphia), Mike Jones (R-York), and Ed Gainey (D-Allegheny) introduced bipartisan legislation–House Bill 1555 aimed at reforming Pennsylvania’s probation and parole system to reduce recidivism, lessen the workload on Pennsylvania counties and help formerly incarcerated individuals avoid technical pitfalls that keep them trapped within the system.”
I share these words from State Representative Harris, “Simply put, the way Pennsylvania operates probation and parole is outdated and leading to formerly convicted people getting caught in a system that’s loaded with trap doors.”
“As a state, we need to acknowledge that the majority of people on probation and parole are working to reform their lives and become contributing members of their communities again, but the system acts like quicksand–the harder you try to get out the more it pulls you back in. This legislation will eliminate many minor, technical violations that entrap people while giving our probation and parole officers the ability to do their jobs more efficiently.” (PA Capitol News, May 30, 2019)
“House Bill 1555, known as the Smart Probation and Parole Act, aims to remove pitfalls that plague the parole and probation system and cause people who make nonviolent mistakes to be pulled back into the criminal justice system.” (PA Capitol News, May 30, 2019)
The Nation of Islam Prison Reform Ministry supports Rep. Harris’ House Bill 1555 and Meek Mill continues to use his platform to bring brighter light on the injustices within the criminal justice system.
His victory brings more leverage to all activists for criminal justice and prison reform. It is even clearer that this system is broken on all fronts. But, the voice of the people for justice will not go unheard. It is unity that strengthens our movement in the City of Philadelphia and all over this country. We must stay united in this fight!
“I always say I speak for the people that don’t have a voice,” Meek Mill stated. “I hate that it had to be me to go to jail, a rapper or a public figure to go to jail, for it to become an issue. But it is an issue.”
Meek Mill went in front of Judge Leon Tucker, the same judge who also issued a decision to restore Mumia Abu-Jamal’s appellant rights. According to CBS3 reporter Joe Holden, “I know this has been a long road for you and hopefully this will be the end of it. I will continue to do what I do with the reform movement and help the people that help me,” Meek said.
Brother Dawud Bey (Pennsylvania Reform Alliance Representative) gave the NOI Prison Reform Ministry Delaware Valley Region access to the Meek Mill Rally platform where we were able to fellowship with Tamika D. Mallory (then co-chair Women’s March), Linda Sarsour (then co-chair Women’s March), Salima Suswell (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Commission for Women), Mysonne (rapper, activist), and Jeff Johnson (activist, media personality). Brother Bey proposed that the Reform Alliance in Pennsylvania network and tackle criminal justice reform and prison reform in Pennsylvania. We look forward to working together in the future. All of those that I mentioned expressed their support of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam Prison Reform Ministry. We appreciate their words of support.
The Marathon Continues!
(Please continue to support the National NOI Prison Reform Ministry.)