Mac Phipps, the New Orleans-area rapper who has been in prison since being convicted on charges of manslaughter in 2001, was recommended for clemency this week. The recommendation for immediate parole by the Louisiana Board of Pardons and Committee on Parole puts the rapper, who has maintained his insistence that he is innocent of the crime he was accused of, one step closer to freedom.
Delivered in a remote hearing over Zoom on Monday, Feb. 22, the board’s unanimous vote does not overturn Phipps’ conviction or argue his innocence; rather, it recommends early release in light of the rapper’s time served and good behavior while incarcerated. His case now goes to Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards for review. The news comes two decades into a 30-year sentence, which began after a contentious trial in which Phipps’ song lyrics became a central tool of the prosecution’s case to incriminate him.
A spokesperson for Gov. Edwards told NPR, “Mr. Phipps’ application has not been forwarded to [the] Governor’s office and as such the Governor is unable to comment about a clemency application he has not yet reviewed.” The spokesperson did add that Edwards has approved 273 clemency requests in just over four years in office. (By comparison, his immediate predecessor approved just three such requests in eight years as governor.) If Gov. Edwards grants clemency, Phipps will then be given a parole hearing, and if released will spend 10 years on parole.
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