Governor Shapiro Hosts Ceremonial Bill Signing with Meek Mill, Legislative Leaders, and Reform Advocates, Enacting Historic Probation Reform Legislation to Create More Fairness in Pennsylvania’s Criminal Justice System

Governor Shapiro and Lieutenant Governor Davis joined by Meek Mill, legislative leaders, and reform advocates for the ceremonial signing of legislation that will pave the way for more Pennsylvanians to get the second chances they deserve.


After signing major legislation earlier this week that builds on the commonsense, fiscally responsible budget, Governor Shapiro and a group of bipartisan elected officials demonstrate how to get stuff done for Pennsylvania.

Harrisburg, PA – Today, Governor Josh Shapiro hosted a ceremonial bill signing of the bipartisan Comprehensive Probation Reform legislation, formerly SB 838, ensuring probation serves as a tool to help Pennsylvanians re-enter their communities and paving the way for more Pennsylvanians to get the second chances they deserve. The Governor was joined by Lieutenant Governor Austin Davis, Meek Mill, Michael Rubin, Speaker Joanna McClinton, Senator Lisa Baker, House Appropriations Chairman Jordan Harris, members of the General Assembly and criminal justice reform advocates to enact this historic criminal justice reform.

“We’re showing that we believe in second chances here in Pennsylvania – and when someone gets a second chance, that should be a real opportunity to start over and succeed,” said Governor Josh Shapiro. “We’re taking commonsense steps to remove unnecessary barriers for Pennsylvanians who want to rebuild their lives and meaningfully contribute to our communities. Because of this bill, more people will get to spend the holidays with their families, more parents will get that job they wanted, and more people will get back on their feet. They’ve served their time, they’ve paid their debt to society – we should do everything we can to help them succeed and thrive.”

Yesterday, Governor Shapiro also signed Clean Slate legislation, formerly HB 689, which will ensure Pennsylvanians who receive a pardon will get their criminal records cleared automatically. As a state representative, Lieutenant Governor Austin Davis sponsored a bill to provide automatic expungement for pardoned individuals, and he helped to get this vital legislation over the finish line as Lieutenant Governor. The historic Clean Slate law was originally signed into law in 2018 by Governor Tom Wolf, leading the nation by making Pennsylvania the first state to seal criminal records through automation.

“Those who are closest to the pain should be closest to the power,” said Lieutenant Governor Austin Davis, who is chairman of the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons. “Too often, people who look like me or come from working-class communities like mine feel like their voices don’t matter. Today’s event shows that they do. When people take their pain and channel it into purpose and action, that is how we create positive change and make our system more just.”

The Comprehensive Probation Reform legislation will help to ensure that probation prepares Pennsylvanians who have been incarcerated to successfully re-enter their communities. It requires mandatory probation review conferences after 2 years or 50% of the probation sentence, whichever is sooner, and felony probation reviews to 4 years of 50% of the probation sentence, whichever is sooner.

The law also instructs judges to have a “presumption against confinement” for minor technical violations – someone should not be sent back to jail unless they commit a “serious” violation, fail to complete court mandated treatment, or are a threat to public safety. Furthermore, many minor technical violations – like showing up late to an appointment, returning home after curfew, or visiting family out of state without permission – will no longer result in individuals being sent back to prison.

This law will also require judges to examine each case to determine the right probation conditions for that defendant’s unique situation, and allows a court to end an indigent defendant’s probation early before they finish paying their court ordered costs and fees.

“I can’t explain how much this bill means to me,” said Meek Mill, Co-Chair of REFORM Alliance. “My experience on probation reflected millions of other stories that go unheard. So when the world saw my case and the absurdity of sending people to prison for non-criminal technical violations, it sparked a movement. It’s an honor and a blessing to see this change come to my home state. I am deeply grateful to the lawmakers and advocates for their hard work over many years to get this done. Thank you, truly.”

“When I sat in that courtroom in 2017 and watched a judge sentence Meek to 2-4 years in prison for NOT committing a crime, my eyes were opened to how broken Pennsylvania’s probation system is,” said Michael Rubin, Co-Chair of REFORM Alliance. “We made a promise to not just free Meek but to change the system for millions of others. Probation has become a trapdoor to incarceration and a bureaucratic nightmare. Instead, supervision should redirect people to the services and support that they need to rebuild their lives. That’s exactly what this bill will help do. Thank you, Governor Shapiro for signing this legislation into law, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, especially Senators Lisa Baker, Tony Williams, and Camera Bartolotta, and Representatives Jordan Harris and Sheryl Delozier, for your leadership on this.”

“Pennsylvania is a place for second chances and this new law reimagines what our probation system looks like. It emphasizes that each person’s circumstances are unique, and their probation plan should be catered to their situation,” said Speaker Joanna McClinton. “Most importantly it will help us shut down the probation-to-prison cycle that entangles too many Pennsylvanians in our correctional system when they could be contributing to our communities.”  

“For some time now, Pennsylvania has been exploring and debating ways to control correctional costs without sacrificing public safety,” said Senator Lisa Baker. “This measure to reform probation, after some extensive negotiations, satisfies both goals.”

“People deserve a second chance,” said Senator Anthony Williams. “With this bill, we begin re-imagining probation as a pathway to rehabilitation rather than a cycle of punishment; we can restore dignity and empower individuals, and in turn, they will have a greater chance to regain their status as contributing members of our communities.”

“As we celebrate the signing of Senate Bill 838 into law by Governor Josh Shapiro, we reflect on the profound impact that this legislation will make on the lives of Pennsylvanians- an endeavor I’ve championed from its inception over the past five years,” said State Representative and Majority Appropriations Chairman Jordan Harris. “This bill is a crucial step towards a more just and equitable criminal justice system, striking a balance between public safety and the fundamental belief in rehabilitation. By reforming probation practices and providing a pathway for early termination, we are not just changing laws; we are transforming lives and offering individuals the opportunity to rebuild and contribute positively to our communities. Senate Bill 838 is a testament to our commitment to fairness, second chances, and a brighter future for all Pennsylvanians.”

Yesterday, Governor Shapiro signed the school and fiscal code bills into law, major bipartisan bills that build on the commonsense, bipartisan budget for fiscal year 2023-24 and further deliver on his top priorities to create a stronger economy, safer and healthier communities, and better schools. Governor Shapiro worked with legislative leaders from both parties to secure the bipartisan passage of major legislation that funds student mental health, environmental repairs in schools, 9-1-1 emergency dispatch, and the first-ever state funding for indigent defense.

Read more about the 2023-24 budget, signed into law by Governor Shapiro at

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