On Thursday, rapper Lil Wayne was released from Rikers Island jail after serving eight months for having a loaded semiautomatic .40-caliber gun on his tour bus. His stay in New York's Department of Corrections has been widely publicized and even former President Bill Clinton weighed in on the release. Here's a sampling of reactions from across the media spectrum, including a spirited defense of the rapper by the usually wonky libertarian magazine Reason:

  • It's an Embarrassment He Was Jailed in the First Place, writes Armin Rosen at Reason:
Lil Wayne went to jail because New York has basically criminalized any access to an existing or even hypothetical illegal handgun, which, in New York, covers pretty much all handguns. So a law that criminalizes intent was used to punish someone who was never accused of having any plans to commit any crime with an illegal handgun that he might have needed to protect himself, and that, in any event, wasn't even his... The entire sorry episode that landed Weezy behind bars is a sobering civics lesson, the sort of case that the phrase 'if it can happen to ___, it can happen to anyone' was invented for. It's great that Lil Wayne's out of prison, but unconscionable that he was ever there at all.
  • Bill Clinton Gives Support Lil Wayne, "What I hope will happen is that he has a good life now," Clinton said on a morning radio show. He also said Wayne was "smart" and talented:

Plans of a homecoming party at a Miami strip club have been confirmed. Of the rappers return, Mack Maine, president of “Young Money,” Lil Wayne’s record label and “family” said the crew planned to “just treat [Wayne] like a king, like the royalty that he is and make him feel like we really missed him and welcome him back to the family, basically.”
  • He Was Never Lonely While Serving Time, writes Jason Newman at Pop Eater:
Over the past eight months, it became difficult to remember the rapper was sitting in a cell and not hustling as usual. "The challenge was to make sure you feel like he never left," Cash Money Records co-founder and Wayne mentor Bryan "Birdman" Williams recently told Associated Press. MTV.com listed the "10 Things Lil Wayne Accomplished Behind Bars." The #FreeWeezy hashtag became a regular reminder of Wayne's situation on Twitter, while Young Money, upon his incarceration, immediately set up Weezy Thanx You, a website featuring personal letters from Wayne to his fans that allowed the rapper to stay connected to his fanbase -- at times thanking fans by name -- while remaining removed from the everyday world. In his latest letter, entitled "The End of a Long Journey," the rapper thanked his fans for their unwavering support.

Lil Wayne envisions recording new music and releasing a long-rumored "Tha Carter IV" next year, and he may also make a book out of a journal he kept in jail, according to his managers and associates.

But his priorities at the moment are reconnecting with his family -- he has four children -- and the Cash Money Records labelmates to whom he often refers as family, too.