Juvenile Cases and Tay-K

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There has often been a debate about how to punish juvenile defenders for their mistakes, and even further discussion about whether or not certain acts can even be considered “mistakes” at all. Most agree that rehabilitation is the way to go when sentencing juvenile offenders since they are the most likely to go on to lead relatively normal lives. Judges are left with the decision to determine whether to try an offender as a juvenile or an adult, but sometimes that decision can be a difficult one to make, especially under unique circumstances.

Recently, there has been a strange phenomenon going on. According to a recent article in the New York Times, teen Dallas rapper Tay-K has been on the run from the law since March 2017 after breaking house arrest pending a hearing for a case involving the death of a man in a home invasion back in July 2016. What is particularly strange is that Tay-K (aka “Tay-K47) has released a two-minute song called “The Race” since he has been on the run, and it’s quickly gaining national popularity. The video already has over 26 million views on YouTube and currently, holds the number 2 spot on SoundCloud’s chart. It is even on Spotify, topping the list of 50 most viral playlists. Word about the song and Tay-K’s position have been spreading on Twitter, and the hashtag #FREETAYK has taken off. Part of the appeal of “The Race” is that Tay-K is currently living what he is rapping about: being on the run.

The moral dilemma of whether or not to listen to the music is only fueling its popularity. In addition, when or if Tay-K is apprehended, it will complicate his criminal case. Most criminal defense attorneys who specialize in juvenile cases (of which there are many in the north Texas and Dallas area, like Karen Alexander) will try to get the lowest sentence possible, but breaking house arrest will prompt the state to go for serious punishment. Although the charges are from 2016, when Tay-K was only 16 years old, if he is 17 at the time of trial, then the prosecution could also have grounds for trying him as an adult, meaning he could receive some more serious punishment. His case will now be a high profile one due to the popularity of his song, so he may have access to better lawyers. Tay-K’s future is uncertain, but the case is incredibly interesting.

As this case develops and “The Race” becomes more popular, it will be interesting to see how the court handles this “violent fugitive”. I think it is important that rehabilitation be the focus of sentencing for all members of society in order to reduce recidivism, especially for young people. The definition of “rehabilitation” is different for all courtrooms, however, and in a high profile case like this politics will definitely be involved. Whatever the charges, it is necessary that we be fair to all citizens and that a fair judgment is passed down.