And finally… bad rap

Prosecutors would find it harder to use rap lyrics as evidence of alleged crimes under legislation proposed in New York.

Two members of the New York State Senate have proposed a bill following controversy over the conviction of rappers in trials where their lyrics were used as evidence.

The bill would establish “an assumption of the inadmissibility of evidence of a defendant’s creative or artistic expression against such defendant in a criminal proceeding”.

Charis E. Kubrin, professor of criminology, law and society at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), argues on her website that rap lyrics “are turning up as evidence in courtrooms across the country with alarming regularity”.

“Rather than treat rap music as an art form whose primary purpose is to entertain, prosecutors have become adept at convincing judges and juries alike that the lyrics are either autobiographical confessions of illegal behaviour or evidence of defendant’s knowledge, motive or identity with respect to the alleged crime,” she adds.

“Yet putting rap on trial has significant implications for how we define creative expression as well as for free speech and the right of all Americans to receive a fair trial.”

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