In 2015, there are more African-American men under criminal supervision in America than the entire population of male slaves in 1850, according to historical US Census data and current criminal justice tallies. Now, we have a greater sense for why that is.
After illegally sneaking a cell phone into a jail cell, a number of Black inmates at the Kershaw Correctional Institute filmed a rap video titled, “I’m on Fire.” That video was uploaded ‘to the outside’ to WorldStarHipHop, where it quickly went viral (the full clip is below).
The group of prisoners resourcefully created the backing beat and instrumentation using nothing but items available inside the cell, resulting in an amazingly good track. But none of those inmates will enjoy the spoils: according details now emerging from Kershaw, the seven inmates will receive an average of 1,000 days of solitary confinement each, for a combined sentence of nearly 20 years.
Additionally, each of the prisoners will lose a number of privileges, including time in the yard, access to the prison canteen, and accrued good behavior points.
The extremity of the sentence is nothing new for Kershaw officials, who acknowledged the punishment after its discovery by EFF investigative researcher David Maass. Indeed, Maass has exposed a number of extreme punishments for social media access in the state: for example, in October 2013, South Carolina inmate Tyheem Henry received 13,680 days (roughly 37.5 years) in disciplinary detention and lost 27,360 days (or 74 years) worth of telephone, visitation, and canteen privileges, among other penalties, all for making 38 posts on Facebook.
The freshly-formulated rap group is behind bars for a range of offenses, including armed robbery and voluntary manslaughter, with known gang affiliations according to Kershaw officials. Here’s their video.