The rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine was released from federal prison early Thursday afternoon to serve the final months of his sentence in home confinement, over fears the rapper’s health would be severely impacted if he were to contract coronavirus while incarcerated.
6ix9ine, whose real name is Daniel Hernandez, is serving a two-year sentence for his entanglement with a violent street gang, and was set for an early release from prison in August. In March, a judge had called the 23-year-old a “model prisoner”.
The decision to release 6ix9ine to home confinement comes as New York City is battling the spread of the coronavirus, including in prisons and jails. Figures published by the Legal Aid Society on Tuesday indicated there were at least 180 cases of coronavirus in New York City jails. High profile Rikers Island inmate Harvey Weinstein reportedly tested positive for the virus last week.
Bill de Blasio, the New York City mayor, announced last week that at least 900 inmates in the city had already been released because of the spread of Covid-19.
Lance Lazzaro, 6ix9ine’s lawyer, argued the rapper faced higher risks from the coronavirus because of his severe asthma. Other convicted celebrities in confinement, including R Kelly and Bill Cosby, are making similar arguments to also push for early releases.
6ix9ine was convicted in November 2018 for his involvement in the Nine Trey Bloods gang and charges of racketeering, drug trafficking and firearm offenses. The Brooklyn rapper, who found success through the “Soundcloud rap explosion” and became well known for his outlandish persona, worked with federal officials in their investigation of his gang in exchange for reduced prison time.
Lazzaro has said 6ix9ine does not plan to enter a witness protection program, as many have speculated the rapper would due to expected retaliations from gang members. “He hopes to resume his career,” Lazzaro said on Thursday.
States across the nation – from Texas to California – have begun releasing inmates, hoping to avoid repeats of the massive spread of coronavirus in the New York system. The top doctor at the Rikers Island complex said this week that the jail is a “public health disaster unfolding before our eyes”. The number of confirmed cases at Rikers spiked from one to nearly 200 n just 12 days, Ross MacDonald, the jail’s chief physician, said.