Rapper T.I. appeared in court today and was sentenced to 11 months in prison. This, as Federal Judge Charles Pannell Jr. revoked T.I’s probation and said T.I. had had enough second chances. This is a real setback for defendants in all cases, especially Federal.
Most states have many different alternative sentencing options, but alternatives are rarely offered in Federal cases. Now we see why. Change, even for judges and our criminal justice system, is hard. Judge Pannell had tried what he called “an experiment” in this case. You see, T.I had received what many thought was a light sentence on his weapons case. But, part of his sentence was probation as well as 1,000 hours of community service. This sentence was built by the rapper’s own lawyers on promises that T.I. could become a role model to at risk youth, those on drugs and part of gangs. In fact, prior to his surrender to Federal Prison, T.I. had starred in his own TV show- MTV’s Road to Redemption. Great strategy and much promise if only T.I. had really walked the walk. Judge Pannell stated “T.I. had dropped a lot of smut on this experiment.” U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates also said “We had hoped that this would be a new, innovative opportunity,” she said. “We’re not giving up on Mr. Harris, but … if you veer off the road of redemption, there are consequences.”
Well, true that! T.I. everyone makes mistakes, and often we fall off the road, but today you showed you may never have been on the right road. You failed to take responsibility and pled for mercy while blaming your addiction. T.I. even went so far as to bring testimony into court regarding a man he helped earlier in the week. While that may have been genuine, it is not a reason to keep T.I from facing the consequences of his 15-year career in the criminal justice system. Others who have been in these shoes have faced YEARS in prison, not months.
SO, here is hoping that we all can learn from this-especially the many fans who have looked up to T.I. And- here is to hoping that this one “experiment” does not dissuade other judges from granting alternative sentences.
T.I., this Insider wants you to truly start on YOUR road to redemption and realize that change is possible with hard work. In the future we all need to take alternative sentencing seriously.