Criminal justice advocate Robert Rooks was named the new Chief Executive Officer of the REFORM Alliance. Rooks replaced Van Jones, who moved up to the Executive Board.

REFORM is committed to transforming probation and parole throughout the United States by changing laws, systems, and culture. Their ultimate goal is to create a way for people to reenter society with the tools they need to succeed while making communities more sustainable. The nonprofit organization was founded in the wake of the #FreeMeek movement by award-winning recording artist Meek Mill after his controversial prison sentence. Other involved in REFORM development are Philadelphia 76ers partner Michael Rubin, business mogul JAY-Z, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, and others.

“With Robert Rooks as our CEO, the sky’s the limit for us at REFORM,” Jones said of Rooks. “When we first launched two years ago, I set out to build a robust team, elevate REFORM from a start-up to a high-performance organization and generate major legislative wins. We’ve made incredible strides on all three fronts. But Rooks is going to put a rocket booster under everything we have done so far. He knows how to build, he knows how to lead and he knows how to win. I am very proud to join the REFORM board, where I will be supporting him and the whole REFORM team to take everything to the next level.”

Parole systems were created to avoid sending people to prison. Unfortunately, it has become a revolving door to prison. The current system fails our people and doesn’t prepare them for life after serving their time.

“It’s a system that has 4.5 million people in it across the country. There are 2.2 million people in our prisons, but 4.5 million on probation and parole. And on any given day 25 to 30% in Virginia, 40% of people in the standing prison population are in on revocations, meaning prison because of a technical violation. There’s something seriously wrong with the probation and parole system in this country.”

As for the future of the REFORM Alliance, they will be launching a federal bill in the coming weeks to increase discretion in the federal system. Rooks noted that they are aiming to shorten the length of time people spend on probation in the federal system. Notably, they’ve also received a placement at the Made in America festival, where they will have a booth in the For Cause area to educate people about the probation and parole system.