Black Inmates Receive 20 Years of Solitary Confinement for Filming a Rap Video

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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).

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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.

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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.

11 Responses

  1. Remi Swierczek

    There is more Americans (black and white) in jail than in all dictatorships and communist and semi-commuist countries on Earth with combine population at over 2 billion!
    One out of 120 citizens of Land of Free is in prison.
    Holland with drugs in the open and legal prostitution just one in 1400!

  2. Relevant?

    The fact that the video was made and that it isn’t half bad (possibly inspired by a recent episode of Empire) is definitely relevant for this site/form of media. The stats on inprisonment definitely are not. I suppose it’s your site so you can grind your political axe wherever you’d like but we get plenty of political commentary from CNN, MSNBC, and Fox. It would be great to just read/learn about things that are musically relevant in this forum.

    • Paul Resnikoff

      This happens to be a massive debate in US society right now, and the implications for the music industry are potentially large. I’m not sure if these guys are the best examples because some (or all) are convicted of violent crimes, but a very substantial portion of those incarcerated are locked up for non-violent, drug-related offenses. A lot of those people are musicians, and talented ones. With a change in policy, comes a change in guys ‘on the outside,’ and less talented people rotting inside some jail cell.

      • Ritch Esra

        I agree you 100% Paul. It’s only through writing and exposing this kind of injustice that we can change it.

  3. Rick Shaw

    They broke the rules and knew that they did it. There are penalties to actions.

    • Remi Swierczek

      Rick, The rules in many cases are IDIOTIC:

      In Minnesota in some counties if you have sex with your wife after eating herring you are subject to jail!

      Ohio calls for minimum 2 years in jail for “obstruction of justice” – verbal argument with cop IS JUST THAT.

      I have been on jury duty where city prosecutor wasted time of many citizens and was working hard to put 19 year old kid to jail for verbal “obstruction of justice”

      More and more often I am concluding that communist Poland where I grew up was the Land of Free.

  4. B

    They punish so harshly against having cell phones in prison because they can be used to coordinate a prision break with help from the outside. Of course they guys were using it harmlessly, but with our current government structure we have to be rigid and treat everyone the same (not usually a bad thing) so thats why they have to pay such long terms in isolation.

  5. Tim Wood

    Just a bunch of lonely, bored cons having some harmless fun. It saddens me that they didn’t shoot the tune with permission, if they had the privileges. Now they’ve run into the unintended consequences of Da Rulez.

    • renon

      Seriously?! Its a pretty good topic to me and completely relevant. Stop being a hater. Get some therapy.