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R. Kelly avoids spending the rest of his life in prison, will spend up to 31 years behind bars

R Kelly
Posted at 11:05 AM, Feb 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-23 13:11:08-05

A federal judge on Thursday handed singer R. Kelly a 20-year prison sentence for his convictions of child pornography and the enticement of minors for sex but said he will serve nearly all of the sentence simultaneously with a 30-year sentence imposed last year on racketeering charges.

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber also ordered that Kelly serve one year in prison following his New York sentence.

The central question going into the sentencing in Kelly’s hometown of Chicago was whether Leinenweber would order that the 56-year-old serve the sentence simultaneously with or only after he completes the New York term for 2021 racketeering and sex trafficking convictions. The latter would have been tantamount to a life sentence.

Prosecutors had acknowledged that a lengthy term served only after the New York sentence could have erased any chance of Kelly ever getting out of prison alive. It’s what they asked for, arguing his crimes against children and lack of remorse justified it.

With Thursday's sentence, though, Kelly will serve no more than 31 years. That means he will be eligible for release at around age 80, providing him some hope of one day leaving prison alive.