Lil Boosie has seen enough behind bars to personally attest to the mistreatment of inmates within the prison system.
The Trill Entertainment artist, born Torrence Hatch, served time at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, a facility notorious for torture allegations over the years. In his experience, the line between corporal punishment and abuse isn't debatable. "Prison is slavery," he tells BET.com when asked to compare the two. "It's modern day slavery. Especially in the state of Louisiana, where inmates are required to work in sometimes sweltering heat. They have dudes come in and their hands are bleeding, their feet are bleeding. You just gotta be a strong person. A lotta people hanged themselves or [took] their lives [in other ways]. It's crazy."
Boosie spent 22 months of his five-year prison stint in solitary confinement. He was allowed outside his cell for only 15 minutes a day to "shower and use the toilet." During that time, the "Show the World" rapper leaned on his faith. "If you ain't strong you'll lose your mind," he says.
"I learned a lot and I became more grateful for life," adds Boosie. "You hear other prisoners' stories and it touches you. Where I was at, you had to have [sentences of] 60 or 70 years to be at that prison. I was blessed to be coming home, even though I didn't have the time they had, that was the only prison they wanted to house me in."
The 31-year-old father was facing the death penalty stemming from murder allegations. Part of what kept him going was the support of fans, which he credits with giving him "hope" throughout the ordeal. In May of 2012, he was found not guilty in the murder-for-hire plot of victim Terry Boyd. Drug charges kept him in custody for two more years.
Now that he's been released, Boosie isn't totally free from the legal system. Last week, he was ordered to complete 100 hours of community service as part of his probation. He plans to use the time to help families of inmates. "I got like five, six homies that I talk to [in prison] all the time, and we gon' open up this foundation for kids who got parents in prison, we gon' try to get them back in contact with their fathers and mothers."
The unnamed charity isn't far removed from the community outreach work Boosie did before he went away. "I always did that. Every year for years and years I talked to kids, I talked to people at hospitals, at schools, I gave away thousands of turkeys every Thanksgiving, Christmas presents … and I'ma continue doing that work," he promises. "Helping people out and letting them know you gotta do right and walk that straight path, I'ma continue doing that. I was one of those kids who didn't have nothing and I just like for kids to have something."
Besides a charity foundation, Boosie is prepping the release of a movie, book, clothing line and album.
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(Photo: Atlantic Records)