Criminal Justice

#FreeKodak Movement Ends With Trump Pardon

Kodak Black
Kodak Black Photo by Michele Eve Sandberg
After being convicted on federal weapons charges in 2019, South Florida rapper Kodak Black was sentenced to more than three years in prison, with an expected release date in November 2022. But last night, on the eve of Donald Trump's last day in office, the president commuted Black's sentence, finally putting an end to the #FreeKodak campaign led by the rapper's fans.

A White House press release calls Black a community leader and notes a number of his charitable acts.

"Before his conviction and after reaching success as a recording artist, Kodak Black became deeply involved in numerous philanthropic efforts," the press release states. "In fact, he has committed to supporting a variety of charitable efforts, such as providing educational resources to students and families of fallen law enforcement officers and the underprivileged."

The criminal case against Black, whose legal name is Bill K. Kapri, stemmed from a gun purchase in Hialeah. Federal authorities say the rapper gave false information during the background check.

Throughout his prison term, Black has complained of mistreatment by officials. The 23-year-old was moved to a facility in Illinois this past October after suing the Federal Bureau of Prisons for alleged abuse by officers at a Kentucky detention center. Black also complained of abuse by guards at the Miami federal prison where he was previously held.

Along the way, Black's fans mounted a persistent campaign to have the rapper released from custody.

As of this morning, Black has not addressed the commutation on his social-media accounts, which have remained active while he's been incarcerated. But he did recently retweet a man who said he was in prison with Black in Miami.

"@KodakBlack1k was my neighbor in FDC Miami. Sweet kid," the January 12 tweet says. "...I hope @POTUS grants him (and me) a clemency."
Trump also granted a pardon to rapper Lil Wayne, who last month pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon.
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Jessica Lipscomb is the former news editor of Miami New Times.