During a Sunday (Jan. 7) appearance on CBS Sunday Mornings, Jelly Roll revisits the Metro-Davidson Country Detention Facility in Nashville, Tenn. — where he was previously an inmate -- and takes viewers inside a cell he once stayed in while incarcerated there.

"This is jail. It sucks. Every one I've ever been to," Jelly comments as he leads CBS correspondent Kelefa Sanneh through the facility.

The singer's first jail stay took place at a youth detention facility when he was 14 years old, and for the next 10 years, he was in and out of jails, mostly on drug-related charges. At 16 years old, he served an 18-month sentence for aggravated robbery, an incident in which he and others "robbed a couple of guys for some weed" while armed, according to Jelly's May 2023 Joe Rogan interview. Tennessee has a zero-forgiveness policy for violent offenders, so the singer has been carrying an inexpungable felony for the two-plus decades since.

"There was a time in my life when I truly thought this was it," he continues, choking back emotion as he wipes away the tears forming in his eyes. "Coming here, after getting nominated for two Grammys, it hits different...Even when I left here, I didn't have a plan.

"I knew that I loved music, and it was the only thing I had any skill set in, I thought," he continues.

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Jelly has been vocal about how linking his time in jails and prisons to the development of his musical career. In December 2022 — when his career was just gaining steam in the mainstream country format — he played a sold-out, hometown show at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena, and put the proceeds towards programs for local incarcerated youth, including a new recording studio at the very same juvenile detention center where he once did time. He's also parlayed his success into providing opportunities for offenders who've served their time, hiring only convicted felons to work at his food truck.

As he sat at the corner of the bunk bed in his one-time jail cell, and put his hand out to touch the metal seat jutting out of the wall, Jelly reflects on the memories the room still carries.  "I wrote hundreds of songs right here," he says.

Jelly left prison for the last time at age 24, and in the decade-and-a-half since, he's worked his way up in music, both as a rapper and as a country singer. Over the past couple of years, he has become one of country music's most beloved stars, and released his debut country album, Whitsitt Chapel, in 2023.

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Gallery Credit: Loudwire Staff

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