COMMENTARY | Georgia-based Rapper Clifford Joseph Harris Jr., better known as T.I., was released from federal custody Thursday after several months in prison on a parole violation charge related to drugs. U.S. Marshals picked up T.I. before the end of the day to return him to federal custody because the method of transportation he used to travel to the halfway house was allegedly not as described in information he reported to prison officials during the approval process, according to The Hollywood Gossip.
The whole debacle stems from the rapper taking a lavish tour bus from the Arkansas facility he was incarcerated in to a halfway house located in Georgia. When the reports first hit the wire, most people, including me, believed that the prison officials had objections about standard features on a musician’s tour bus, which include fully stocked liquor cabinets and copious amounts of marijuana.
The rapper’s attorney Steve Sadow told TMZ, “We are awaiting the opportunity to quickly resolve whatever the issue may be that the Federal Bureau of Prisons has with T.I.’s method of transportation, bus, from Arkansas to Atlanta, so that T.I. can return to the halfway house to complete the remaining days of his sentence.” He also added that the incident was not drug-related, which has been lent credence by the lack of allegations.
When the marshals arrived at the halfway house, the supervisor reportedly argued in T.I.’s favor that it was ridiculous to send him back for such a violation. T.I.’s wife confirmed that prison guards saw the tour bus when it picked him up, and several prison officials took pictures with the rapper standing in front of it. While it seems like a minor infraction, the federal prison system is most likely acting with regards to public perception. If it is indeed standard procedure that an inmate’s halfway house status gets revoked over misrepresentation of their mode of transport, we will never hear about the official who made the call.
Federal prisons are already notorious for being better equipped than some country clubs. The compromise for doing federal time is a mandated 85 percent sentence fulfillment. The public only sees the nicer accommodations, and doesn’t realize that the majority of inmates would trade down to the most disgusting and cramped prison cells in the country to get their sentences to expire under state guidelines.
The unfair portrayal of federal prisons as plush has no doubt led prison officials to guard against publicized reports of celebrities forgoing a ride in the caged backseat of a police car for a lavish trek in a multi-million dollar tour bus. I believe T.I. would have ridden a bicycle to get out of jail early, so let’s hope the judges see it for what it is. Let Mr. Harris return to the halfway house after a hearing.