Lauryn Hill walked free from a federal prison Friday and — if she has her way — back into the musical spotlight.
The Grammy-winning artist was released from a low-security all-female facility in Danbury, Connecticut, according to federal prison records. She’d been incarcerated for the past three months for failing to pay federal income taxes.
The 38-year-old still faces restrictions, though: three months of home confinement and a year of supervised probation. She’d also been ordered to pay penalties and the taxes she owed. Her lawyer, Nathan Hochman, said Hill has since fully paid her taxes.
Hochman confirmed his client left the western Connecticut prison, as well as the fact she started her home confinement and probation on Friday.
The singer got out several days earlier than planned due to various factors, “including good behavior,” Hochman said.
On the same day of her release from prison, Hill released a new song called “Consumerism” — a fast-moving track that puts the spotlight on various -isms, such as skepticism and narcissism — via her official Tweeter feed. According to the linked page, “she wanted to get this music out while she was incarcerated, as it is a product of the space she was in while she was going through some of the challenges she has been faced with recently.”
The former Fugees star and solo artist has sold 16 million albums over the course of her career. But she didn’t meet her tax obligations all that time: Hill pleaded guilty last year to three counts of failing to file tax returns on more than $1.8 million between 2005 and 2007.
According to the prosecutor, the sentence she eventually faced also took “into account additional income and tax losses for 2008 and 2009 — when she also failed to file federal returns — along with her outstanding tax liability to the state of New Jersey, for a total income of approximately $2.3 million and total tax loss of approximately $1,006,517.”
Despite her commercial success, Hill told U.S. Magistrate Judge Madeline Cox Arleo in May that she lives “very modestly” and claimed that most of the money from her music went to other people. Describing her “life of sacrifice with very little time for myself and my children,” Hill insisted that she planned to pay her taxes, it was just a question of when.
But, at her sentencing, the judge reminded the singer that individual citizens don’t get to decide when they pay the government.
CNN’s Jane Caffrey contributed to this report.
Greg Botelho | CNN