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Rapper Tests Positive for Pot, Will Stay in Jail

March 18, 1998|STEVE HOCHMAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Rap performer Shawn Thomas, whose arrest on parole violations stemming from his violent anti-police lyrics stirred a 1st Amendment debate last month, will have to spend about two more months in jail after testing positive for marijuana use, authorities said.

The Sacramento "gangsta" rapper, whose stage name is C-BO, has served more than two weeks on lesser violations since the Board of Prison Terms overturned the lyrics-oriented charges. Authorities--charging that he violated his parole by promoting gang violence and lifestyles--initially arrested Thomas for releasing an album that included a call for the death of a police spokesman.

Thomas had been due to be released today. But on Tuesday he agreed to the additional time behind bars as a result of the drug test results. Officially, the new term in jail is for three months, though with work credit he is expected to be freed May 17.

The drug test, given two days after his March 3 arrest, revealed marijuana in his system from sometime before his arrest, authorities said.

"The drug test is standard," said Jim Nielsen, chairman of the Board of Prison Terms. "It is a general condition of parole [for all convicts], not a special condition for him."

But some people in the rapper's camp charge that Thomas was given harsher treatment than normal as a reprisal for having publicly challenged his parole conditions.

"The parole office gets dirties [positive drug test results] every day, and they don't always put people in jail for the first dirty," said Judy Bracamonte, a paralegal for Thomas' attorneys, John Duree and Jeff Rosenbloom. "Commonly, they continue on parole with the condition that they be tested weekly. They could easily have released him tomorrow and then set that condition."

Nielsen rejected that suggestion. "That's totally not a consideration whatsoever," he said. Thomas "had ingested the marijuana before he came back into custody, and this is a normal procedure. There is no sort of retaliation involved."

The rapper was paroled in June after serving 15 months on a weapons conviction from an incident in which a man was killed. At the time, Thomas agreed to parole conditions including a clause that he not engage in any activities that promoted a gang lifestyle or anti-law enforcement attitudes. But in late February, he released a new album, "Til My Casket Drops," which included graphic lyrics about gang life and proposed violent acts against law enforcement officials.

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