John Forté plans to make the most of his second chance. Following the announcement earlier this week that the former [artist id="1075"]Fugees[/artist] collaborator and solo hip-hop artist was one of 16 people to be pardoned or have their sentences commuted by outgoing President Bush, Forté is preparing to re-enter society after serving seven years of a 14-year sentence for possession of 31 pounds of liquid cocaine with intent to distribute.
One of Forté's lawyers, Aarti Tandon, told MTV News that contrary to earlier reports, her client had not been pardoned but had his sentence commuted, which means he does not have to serve the rest of it. Though Forté cannot currently be reached by phone or e-mail to discuss his feelings about the commutation, Tandon said he is elated and looking forward to getting back in the music game.
"I have spoken with him, and he is pleased and very grateful to President Bush for commuting his sentence," Tandon wrote. "Mr. Forté is humbled by his life experiences. He will use his early release to return to his family, re-enter the world of music, work with at-risk youth to deter them from drugs and crime, and continue his educational program at the London School of Economics."
Forté — who studied violin at the prestigious Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire as a youth — co-wrote and produced two songs on the Fugees' Grammy-winning 1996 smash, The Score. Two years later, he released his debut, Poly Sci, on which Fugees member [artist id="1162"]Wyclef Jean[/artist] has an executive-producer credit. He released his second album, I, John, while in prison in 2002.
Tandon said that Forté's commutation came as a result of more than five years of campaigning by his lawyer, Michael Nussbaum, herself and a number of others, including singer [artist id="16222"]Carly Simon[/artist]. Forté is a friend of Simon's son, singer/songwriter Ben Taylor.
Tandon said Forté understands the lengths those who support him have gone to secure his release, and "he intends to justify fully the confidence shown in him." While in prison, Forté has been organizing music groups and Save Our Youth events; working as a G.E.D. tutor; leading classes in philosophy, writing and re-entry into society; taking correspondence courses and writing music that he intends to record upon his release. He was also admitted to a correspondence program with the London School of Economics for a degree in politics and international relations.
Forté is slated to be released on December 22.