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The Story of How Pimp C Ended up in Prison

As part of VICE's series on America Incarcerated, read an excerpt of Julia Beverly's biography 'Sweet Jones: Pimp C's Trill Life Story' about the UGK rapper's battle with the Texas legal system.


Cover of Sweet Jones: Pimp C's Trill Life Story courtesy of the author

VICE is exploring America's prison system in the week leading up to our special report with President Obama for HBO. Tune in Sunday, September 27, at 9 PM EST, to see his historic first-ever presidential visit to a federal prison.

Throughout the second half of the 1990s, Port Arthur, Texas, rapper and producer Pimp C essentially shaped the sound of Southern hip-hop as one-half of the groundbreaking duo UGK. Flipping the warm palettes of funk and soul into fuzzy, languid beats perfect for late night drives, his production offered a counterpoint to the crisper, harsher coastal sounds of the moment, while his raunchy, relatable verses, delivered in a nasal, thickly accented voice, established him as one of the most entertaining, distinctive, and talented MCs of all time. With a colorful sense of fashion and a reputation for prolific drug use, Pimp C was also a revered persona beyond his music. Pimp C and his partner Bun B were already regional legends as the decade drew to a close, but they became household names in hip-hop in 1999 when Jay-Z enlisted them for his hit single "Big Pimpin'."

Yet just as the group seemed poised to take over the world and properly put Texas rap on the map, Pimp C fell into a spiral of legal troubles that eventually resulted in him spending nearly four years in prison. During that period, from 2002 through the end of 2005, "Free Pimp C" became a rallying cry for fans across the country—in part because Pimp C's crimes didn't seem, in many people's eyes, to fit the punishment. Adding to the tragedy, at the end of 2007, just less than two years after his release from prison and right in the wake of releasing an acclaimed UGK comeback double album called Underground Kingz, Pimp C was found dead in a hotel room from a fatal combination of prescription cough syrup and sleep apnea.

In her expansive biography Sweet Jones: Pimp C's Trill Life Story, released earlier this summer, journalist and Southern rap expert Julia Beverly explores the life of Pimp C—real name Chad Butler—and, in particular, sheds light on the period leading up to and encompassing his incarceration. Among the many revelations she offers is an astute analysis of the way that Pimp C's legal troubles coincided with an intensely concentrated investment in the Texas correctional system. "Put simply, Texas in the year 2000 was the worst time and place in history for anyone—especially a 26-year-old black man—to find himself in a courtroom," she writes. As part of VICE's ongoing series about the US prison system, America Incarcerated, Noisey is pleased to share an excerpt from Beverly's biography below. The following selections, which have been condensed and abridged from a broader discussion of Butler's legal battles, help paint a picture of both the complicated realities of criminal justice in America and the ways in which it intersected with the life of one of the country's most important musical figures. Sweet Jones: Pimp C's Trill Life Story is out now and available here. Read on to learn more about the chain of events that led to "Free Pimp C" becoming a mantra for rap fans everywhere:

Continued below...

Part One: The Arrest

Saturday, December 16, 2000
Houston, Texas

One month after DJ Screw died, Chad eased his black Lincoln Navigator into a handicapped space near the entrance to Sharpstown Mall. As he climbed out of the car, Chad stuck a 9mm pistol in the waistband of his blue jeans. Since the Master P incident, he’d never gone anywhere without it.

Mama Wes, who was out running some errands, was irritated that Chad hadn’t taken DJ Bird with him. Bird, back at the townhouse, didn’t like the fact that he’d gone to the mall alone either, but Chad had been doing that a lot lately. He had his eye on a woman who worked at one of the mall kiosks.

Chad was often “in character,” perhaps feeling pressure to live up to the persona he embodied on “Big Pimpin’.” While the fans, particularly in Texas, viewed him as some kind of superhero, those who really knew him were concerned. Jeff Sledge was worried because Chad had become “extremely volatile…probably the most volatile” he’d ever been.

“Look at the nigga in the mink. I know him from somewhere,” 18-year-old Chaka Prince told her older friend Lakita Hulett. She gestured towards the escalators, where a man in a flashy mink coat was talking on his cell phone. Suddenly, it clicked; she’d seen him in a music video. “That’s Pimp C,” Chaka said.

---

After they spotted Pimp C at Sharpstown, 25-year-old Lakita, Chaka, and two of their friends, Shameka Hawkins and a man named Donya “Dooley” Anderson, headed towards Jarman’s Shoe Store so Dooley could try on some shoes.

Chad happened to walk past Jarman’s on his way to a nearby record store. He greeted the store manager Kevin Nesby with a handshake; Nesby always took care of him when he stopped by. Still talking on the phone, Chad picked up a new set of Timberland boots near the cash register and asked for a size 11.

Lakita, inside the store browsing the shoe racks, leaned towards her friend Chaka.

“Don’t pay him no mind,” she instructed. “Act like you don’t know him.”

Dooley and another male friend were at the register paying for their shoes when Lakita approached. She’d already gotten into a short spat with the store clerk, who wouldn’t allow her to exchange some shoes.

Making conversation, the store clerk gestured towards Chad and asked the ladies if they knew who he was.

“No,” Lakita snapped.

“This is Pimp C,” the manager Nesby told her. “You don’t know Pimp C?”

“Who the fuck is Pimp C?” Lakita snorted.

“The guy from UGK,” Nesby said. “Oh! I don’t listen to them ol’ pussy ass niggas,” Lakita said, her voice rising.

Chad, who had his back turned to the other customers, heard the remark behind him.

“Hey man, let me call you back,” he told Bun. Chad hung up the phone and turned around to face Lakita.

“Hey man, uh, why you gotta talk that shit with my name in ya mouth?” he asked. “You must don’t watch videos.”

“You never heard of ‘Big Pimpin’ with Jay-Z?” Nesby chimed in. “Fuck Pimp C,” Lakita said. “I don’t know no Pimp C or UGK.” Chad’s demeanor, which had first been lighthearted, quickly turned dark.

“Bitch, you don’t know UGK? You must have been in jail or something,” he snapped, loudly.

“It ain’t like you muthafuckin’ Master P,” Lakita snapped back, louder. At the mention of Master P, Chad lost his temper and let loose with a flurry of obscenities. Nesby rushed out from behind the cash register and stood between the two as they hurled insults at each other. He faced Chad and grabbed both of his arms.

“Calm down,” Nesby told him. “She isn’t worth it.” Shameka was already outside and Dooley, who had finished paying for his shoes, tried to get his friends to leave.

“Let’s go,” he insisted.

As Lakita and her friends started backing away, still yelling insults in Chad’s direction, Chad stepped towards her. Lakita, who stood 5’9” and 160 pounds, wasn’t a small woman, and as she reached inside her purse, Chad thought she was reaching for a weapon.

Instinctively, he lifted his jacket to show her that he had one, too. “Freeze, don’t move no’ mo’,” he snapped.

Chad glanced at the two men with Lakita. Dooley, who’d seen the pistol tucked in Chad’s waistband, threw his hands up to indicate surrender.

“Man, we don’t want it,” he said. “I don’t want it either, man,” Chad said. “Y’all need to back up out this store. This not funny no more.”

As they left the store, headed in different directions, Chad spit one last “Bitch!” and “Hoe!” at Lakita.

On her way out, Lakita passed by a police officer at the security desk. He first looked skeptical when Lakita told him that a man had pulled a gun on her. She started yelling, louder, insisting that a man had put a gun in her side and threatened to kill her. The officer put out an alert over the radio for an armed suspect in a mink coat. Another officer nearby spotted Chad leaving out of the North exit and both officers took off running.

A customer who had observed the exchange shook his head at Lakita, telling her it was some “hoe ass shit” to tell the police. Nesby was also upset with Lakita. Didn’t she know Pimp was down with the Mafia? He didn’t want any problems with Rap-A-Lot. In the parking lot, Chad was soon surrounded by eight police officers, all circling his vehicle with their weapons drawn and barking out commands.

Chad ignored their orders to get on the ground and show his hands, instead opening the driver’s side door. He’d barely gotten his right foot inside when two officers rushed him and forced him to the ground.

“After the cop handcuffed me, four more officers came running up and slammed me down to the ground,” Chad told F.E.D.S. Magazine. “They started kicking me and hitting me.”

Police slammed his head against the car door and pushed his head onto the concrete. The police report acknowledged that Chad was wrestled to the ground with “much resistance,” claiming that he had become “aggressive and combative” and that “only the force necessary” was used to subdue him.

As police brought Chad back inside in handcuffs, Lakita was exiting the mall. “I’m gonna fucking kill you, bitch!” Chad yelled after her. He was growing more and more irate, and as police struggled to contain him, they smashed his head against a glass doorway, which knocked him nearly unconscious. They finally managed to drag him into the mall’s security office.

With Chad in custody and nearly incapacitated, police took statements from Lakita and her friends. Lakita’s last name was spelled incorrectly (“Hullett” instead of “Hulett”), which was likely intentional, given her documented history of giving police incorrect information to avoid revealing her own criminal past. Lakita told police she wanted to press charges, claiming that Chad stuck a gun in her side and threatened, “I will shoot you…I will kill you hoe and will slap you hoe.”

Her friend Chaka also claimed that Chad threatened, “Bitch, I’ll shoot you,” before pulling out the gun and sticking it in Lakita’s side. According to the police report, Dooley said that Chad pulled a pistol on his “little sister” Lakita and “called [her] all kinds of bitches and hoes.”

Lakita’s friend Shameka, however, told police she had never seen Chad pull out a gun. The store manager Kevin Nesby also disputed Lakita’s version, telling police that Lakita started the whole argument by “talking very ghetto” while “Pimp C was just staying calm.”

“If she had not jumped on the man, this would [have] never started,” Nesby said. The police report also claimed that Chad had a “prior arrest record for dangerous drugs and assault.”

When he finally regained consciousness inside the security office, Chad’s head was throbbing. He opened his eyes to see a small wrinkled plastic baggie with less than a gram of cocaine dangling in his face. “What is this?” the officer holding it demanded.

Even in his groggy state, Chad hadn’t lost his sharp tongue.

“I don’t know, ’cause that can’t be mine,” Chad said. “If it was mine, it would be in a big ol’ Crown Royal bag.”

He did acknowledge that the quarter-ounce of marijuana belonged to him. Chad looked around the security office and glared at Officer Matheny, who had wrestled him to the ground in the parking lot.

“I’m gonna remember you, white boy,” he spat. He asked to file a formal complaint about the parking lot altercation.

Back at the townhouse, Mama Wes grew uneasy when hours passed by and Chad hadn’t returned. She finally got a call from Bun, who informed her that Chad was going to jail. Red Boy, who had become her trusted right-hand man, rushed to Sharpstown, but Chad was already en route to Ben Taub Hospital. According to Mama Wes, Chad passed out again at the hospital, but police wouldn’t allow the emergency room doctor to do a CAT scan.

“I kid you not, C was black, like all over his body,” says Mama Wes. “The kidney area, the ribs, I saw this [myself]. His neck, his head. He was a mess.”

Chad was transported to the Central Jail and charged with Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon.

“They said that was an assault ‘cause I showed them my pistol,” he told journalist Matt Sonzala. “They call [that] Aggravated Assault, but…there was no bodily injury and it actually was not an assault. In the State of Texas, if a person fears for they life and you have a weapon, that’s classified as Aggravated Assault.”

Mama Wes believed the severity of the charges was more a result of his parking lot altercation with police than the initial argument with Lakita.

“He never touched her, he never got that close to her,” says Mama Wes. “But then he started raising hell with [the police], and that’s how he got that [Aggravated Assault] charge.”

Chad posted $ 10,000 bond at 6 AM. When he finally made it back to the townhouse, DJ Bird asked, “What happened, man!?”

“The broad say something about ‘Fuck Pimp C, I’m down with Master P,’ y’know,” Chad explained.

Mama Wes got a sinking feeling in her stomach. “I just knew, somehow, it wasn’t going to turn out good,” she remembers. “It was just all downhill for a long time from there.”

Part Two: The Texas Prison System

There’s never a good time to get arrested, but Chad’s timing was particularly bad. Texas had just spent ten years and three billion dollars building the largest prison industrial complex in history. Tens of thousands of empty prison beds had generated millions of dollars for private entrepreneurs who had significant incentive to fill them and keep the money flowing.

Even Andy Collins, the former executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) who oversaw the construction of a staggering 43 new prisons in 18 months in the mid-1990s, admitted it was “the stupidest thing the State of Texas has ever done.”

This was, of course, after he ensured that his friends and business partners were guaranteed multi-million dollar TDCJ contracts, and resigned from the job to operate a private prison, which would bring him far more money than his $ 120,000 annual TDCJ salary.

When Andy Collins was promoted to executive director of TDCJ in April 1994, Texas had 65 prisons housing 72,000 inmates. Crime hysteria was at an all-time high thanks to the crack cocaine epidemic.

“The public was absolutely hoodwinked into thinking that the only way the crime problem could ever be solved was prosecution and incarceration,” Collins later told Texas Monthly. “[ We were] taking juveniles and feeding them directly into the system. I mean, look who was behind it all. Prosecutors, cops, politicians — all of them with a self-serving agenda. [The media] did as much as anyone to build all those prisons because they fanned the flames of public hysteria … crime had become entertainment. Turn on the TV. Cops. Rescue 911.”

Ever since the landmark class-action lawsuit filed by inmate David Ruiz in 1972, Texas prisons had been under pressure to solve their overcrowding problems. In 1994, two state bonds were issued for prison construction. And Andy Collins, considered incompetent by many of his former peers, suddenly had access to billions of dollars to build prisons.

“All of a sudden, the gloomy prison business was the hottest thing going,” writer Robert Draper noted in Texas Monthly. “Money grabbers poured in from all over North America to get in on the action. Private-prison operators reaped more profits in Texas than anywhere else in the nation. Construction firms and subcontractors raked in hundreds of millions of dollars. Vendors great and small … The Texas prison expansion became a feeding frenzy.”

By December 1995, when Collins resigned, TDCJ had doubled their inmate capacity from 72,000 to more than 140,000. The state filled many of those beds by manipulating the parole board: they simply stopped granting parole. TDCJ absorbed the Board of Pardons and Paroles (BPP), which had previously been a separate entity, and parole rates dropped from 85 percent to 16 percent.

Prison had become such big business that the goal was no longer to keep people out of prison, but to make sure the prisons were profitable. Incarceration had become an industry of its own.

“Just as New York dominates finance and California the film industry, Texas reigns supreme in the punishment business,” writer Robert Perkinson noted in his book Texas Tough.

Meanwhile, street hustlers, trying to get by day-to-day, were largely unaware of these political and economic forces at work.

“Prison is big business, man,” Screwed Up Click affiliate Mike D noted in the book Houston Rap. “[We were still doing]…what we do out here [in these streets]…not even bein’ mindful of what the government has in store for us.”

Texas lawmakers blamed the inmates themselves, not economic factors, parole board manipulation, or extreme sentencing, for the exploding inmate population.

“It’s disappointing that so many human beings have done something to get themselves locked up,” state Senator John Whitmore, chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, told Dallas-area newspaper the Star-Telegram.

But mass incarceration was a national problem, not just a Texas problem. America’s incarceration rate had remained remarkably stable until the 1970s, when everything changed with the enactment of New York’s infamous Rockefeller Drug Laws, imposing lengthy sentences on low-level drug dealers. Federal parole was eliminated in the 1980s and Congress established mandatory sentencing guidelines, taking power away from judges and handing it to prosecutors.

Between 1980 and 2000, the number of people under the control of the criminal justice system in the United States tripled from 2 million to 6 million. The United States’ incarceration rate was a staggering 682 per 100,000 people, second only to Russia (685) and far higher than the global average of 125. (In Texas, the rate was an astronomical 1,035.)

For black men, the rate was 3,109, four times greater than it was during apartheid in South Africa, the most openly racist society in the world. This came as no surprise, since in Texas, the prison system was created directly from a need to control a certain segment of the population after slavery was outlawed.

“The system of mass incarceration works to trap African Americans in a virtual (and literal) cage,” writes legal scholar Michelle Alexander. “If mass incarceration is considered as a system of social control—specifically, racial control—then the system is a fantastic success.”

Texas’ incarceration spree reached its height in the summer of 2000, just a few months before Chad’s arrest. TDCJ inmates were typically assigned a six-digit identification number, but in July 2000, they ran out of six-digit numbers and officially created prisoner number 1,000,000.

Texas’ criminal justice population (including people on parole or probation) exceeded the entire population of Vermont, Wyoming, or Alaska, with a full 5 percent of the adult population (one in 20 people) under TDCJ’s control. For black men between age 21 and 29, the percentage was 29 percent, or one out of three.

Put simply, Texas in the year 2000 was the worst time and place in history for anyone—especially a 26-year-old black man—to find himself in a courtroom.

Part Three: The Courtroom

Monday, August 5, 2002
Houston, Texas

On his 244th day in the County Jail, Chad and his new attorney Ross Lavin faced off against Assistant District Attorney Lance Long in Judge Jeannine Barr’s courtroom to discuss his third probation violation.

By this time, the facts of what had actually happened at Sharpstown Mall were irrelevant. Because he had pled guilty, the question wasn’t whether he’d committed the crime but how long he should be punished for it.

“That was the biggest mockery of justice,” says Mama Wes. “I think where we made our fatal mistake with that whole thing was not going to trial.”

The state began by stating their case for the probation violation: he had failed to report on several occasions, hadn’t kept up with his community service hours, and owed court fees. He had tested positive twice for marijuana. But the final straw was his refusal to participate in SAFP.

Chad admitted that these things were true and gave up his right to have a formal hearing. He would now be sentenced on the original charge of Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon, a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Chad’s attorney Ross Lavin introduced Robert Outten, a substance abuse counselor who had met with Chad several times, to make recommendations on his sentence.

“You’re familiar with Mr. Butler’s profession, is that correct?” Lavin asked Outten.
“Yes, I am.”
“And is that type of profession conducive to staying clean and sober?”
“No, it isn’t.”

Outten explained that Chad’s frame of mind had changed during his seven months in the county jail. “I think he’s finally realizing he does have a serious problem,” said Outten. “The medications are helping. The mental attitude, mental status from the first time I [saw] him to the last time I [saw] him was completely different…I really feel he still needs treatment.”

Outten said he had researched several possible treatment centers for Chad, specializing in patients with a “dual diagnosis” (someone with both a drug addiction and a mental illness) where he would be allowed to continue taking his bipolar medication. Outten recommended that Chad should be sent somewhere away from Houston so that he could have a “change of scenery” and not “fall back into the same pattern.”

“Why should the Court not just send him to prison for ten or 15 years?” Lavin asked.

“Basically, I think he’s salvageable,” said Outten. “I have gone to court a lot of times where I testified against people that were on probation and just needed to go to prison, there were no other options left. I don’t think we have exhausted all of the options … with Mr. Butler before he’s incarcerated.”

On cross-examination for the State, Long suggested that Chad could go to a treatment center after completing his prison sentence. Outten balked when asked the specifics of Chad’s drug use, citing “client confidentiality,” but Judge Barr ordered him to answer and explain “why you think he’s appropriate for the [SAFP] Program.”

Outten said Chad had been smoking marijuana for a decade and had used cocaine “extensively” as well as prescription medications like Valium.

“And this [drug use] was all going on for a length of time prior to him pulling a gun on a girl in a record store?” Long asked.
“Yes.”
“Prior to the defendant committing that offense, and I say that because he has entered a plea of guilty to the underlying offense that he’s on probation for, he was able to maintain and establish a career, was he not?”
“Yes.”
“May not have been a career that you thought he hung around the best people, he earned a living, didn’t he?”
“Yes.”
“He earned quite a good living, didn’t he?”
“Yes, as far as I know.”
“Did the defendant ever discuss with you the facts of the underlying offense?”
“No.”
“Have you been made aware of the fact that what he’s on probation for is pulling a gun on a girl in a record store because she said she didn’t know who he was?”
“Yes.”
“And at the time after he did that he was arrested, they found the gun and the cocaine on him?”
“Yes.”
“I think you would have to agree with me that’s an extremely serious offense?”
“Yes, sir.”
“And I think you would also have to agree with me that the defendant was given one chance when he got deferred rather than went to prison at the time, he was given a second chance by the Court?”
“Yes, he was.”
“And after he tested positive for marijuana he was given another chance by not being revoked at that point in time?”
“Yes, he was.”
“And the last time he had a motion he was given another chance because he wasn’t sent to prison at that point in time either?”
“Yes.”
“You talked about [the fact] that you think that the defendant is capable of being saved.”
“Yes, I do.”
“Wouldn’t you agree with me [that] it’s not just about the defendant after a while?”
“I understand that, however, most of these behaviors were under the influence of drugs. The career, the profession he was in basically advocates that type of behavior.”
“I guess my next question is: Can you guarantee this Court, if she puts him back on probation, that he won’t do it?”
“You know I can’t.”
“You can’t guarantee he won’t shoot a girl in a record store…”
“Well, that depends. I could pretty much give you very, very good odds if he’s not… using drugs and alcohol that probably wouldn’t happen…”
“Can you guarantee the Court he won’t use drugs and alcohol again?”
“No.”

Judge Barr instructed Chad to raise his right hand. “You do solemnly swear any testimony you give in this case will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”

“Yes, Your Honor.”

Chad’s attorney Lavin began by telling Chad that he was facing “20 years in the penitentiary,” noting that “this Judge has the power to do basically whatever she wants.” He then prompted Chad to explain why he had refused to participate in SAFP.

“When you agreed to go to [SAFP], did you think you had to go off your medicines?” Lavin asked.
“No, sir.”
“Did you mean any disrespect to this Court?”
“No, sir.”
“To the assistant district attorney?”
“No, sir.”
“Do you think it’s a fair assessment that you kind of messed up on that last chance?”
“Yes, sir.”
“If you had to do it over again would you have gone off your medicines?”
“No, sir.”
“Tell the Judge why you wouldn’t have gone off your medicines?”
“My medicines keep me stable, Your Honor. When I say stable, I mean not in a manic state or a depressed type of state. And in a depressed state I mean – I’m sure you’re familiar with depression. I’m not very productive [when I’m depressed]. When I’m on my medication I’m stable.”

Chad’s attorney admitted that in prior hearings, Chad had “perhaps come into court and was disrespectful or was laughing or perhaps condescending to an assistant district attorney.” He asked Chad if he had anything to say.

“If I disrespected the Court in any way I would like to apologize to you, Your Honor, and to you, also,” Chad said, nodding towards the assistant district attorney.

---

“Did you ever call this Court or the probation officer assigned to this Court to tell them the problems you had with giving up your medications after being – agreeing to go to [SAFP], within a day or two after?”

“No, sir, but I did write a letter to the Court and I did write a personal letter to the judge.”

“When did you do that?”

“The first letter I wrote was a day or so after I had signed for the [SAFP] program and found out that they didn’t have a place where I could get my medication. And after I got a response I was denied that motion, so I wrote a personal letter to the Judge explaining to her what was going on with my life and apologizing for disrespecting the Court and asking if there was another option besides me having to come off my psychotropic medication.”

“How long have you been using drugs?”
“Approximately 10 years.”
“What drugs have you abused in the past?”
“Valium, cocaine, marijuana, PCP.”

“After December 2001, after you got out of jail you never went back to do any of your community service, did you?”

“No, sir. And the reason being –”

“I understand. I didn’t ask you—I remember you said you had a spider bite and you were sick.”

“And I was on medication prescribed to me by the Harris County [Jail] people before I left.”

“The question again, though, is: You never did any [community service], sir, after you were released the last time?”

“No, sir, I didn’t.”

“Your Honor, everything that I have heard from Mr. Butler is consistent with him being a drug addict,” Chad’s attorney Lavin said in his closing argument. “That’s what drug addicts do. They use drugs … Everything that Mr. Butler did is consistent with the problem that he’s got for which he’s asking help. He needs to go to a treatment center.”

“I think the problem with that argument, it’s just about him, him, him,” Mr. Long countered in the State’s closing argument. “It’s about time to focus on the rest [of] us … He gets released, he screws up over and over and over again. He gets released on bond, he screws up. He gets released, he smokes dope, he doesn’t do his community service. Person after person has come in here and we have treated him differently than anybody else.”

“He took a gun into a mall with his cocaine and pulled it on a girl,” Long said. “He pled guilty, he was given a break. He’s come back here, this is his third time. It’s not about him anymore. I think he’s blown all [his] chances … People don’t get that many chances. They shouldn’t.”

“He’s dangerous,” Long concluded. “No one can guarantee you that the next time…he’s not going to pull a gun on that girl in the shoe store or somebody else. No one can. No one can say anything to guarantee us that. He needs to be in prison where we are safe.”

“Do you have anything else to say before I sentence you?” Judge Barr asked Chad. “No, Your Honor.”

“Having nothing to say, it’s the order of this Court that you, Chad Butler, having been found guilty… [shall] be delivered by the sheriff of Harris County, Texas, to the director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice…where you will be confined for a period of eight years.”

Chad’s face remained blank and expressionless. He said nothing.

“Good luck to you,” Judge Barr said, signaling the conclusion of the hearing at 9:50 AM.

Sweet Jones: Pimp C's Trill Life Story is available now through Shreveport Ave. Order a copy here.

All week, VICE is exploring the US criminal justice system through the series America Incarcerated. Read more here.

Julia Beverly is the author of Sweet Jones: Pimp C's Trill Life Story and an acclaimed hip-hop journalist. Follow her on Twitter.