Update 3/17/22: After a decision by the Illinois Appellate Court yesterday (March 16) to cut his 150-day sentence pending an appeal, Jussie Smollett has been released from prison. The 2-1 decision granted the motion from the actor’s lawyers for a stay of the sentence, with the judge noting that Smollett “has been convicted on non-violent offenses," which certainly factored into the ruling. The judge also cited that Smollett would have likely served his full sentence before the appeal got very far. Just last week, Smollett was denied an appeal by the sentencing judge when his defense team pushed to get him free while he appealed the pending five felony conviction. Smollett’s attorney revealed to AP that the actor’s family is “very happy with today’s developments,” when asked about him being released. —Trey Alston
Jussie Smollett has been sentenced in his controversial hate crime case.
On Thursday, Cook County Judge James Linn sentenced the actor to 150 days in prison, starting immediately. Smollett was also given 30 months of felony probation and ordered to pay a $25,000 fine, in addition to $120,106 in restitution to the city of Chicago over investigative costs. Previously, Smollett filed a since-dismissed countersuit against the city, alleging that prosecutors had caused him "mental anguish and extreme emotional distress."
Back in December, the Empire star was convicted on five counts of felony disorderly conduct after jurors decided he falsely reported an anti-gay, anti-Black hate crime in January 2019. He originally told investigators that he was attacked by two men who yelled slurs, poured bleach on him and put a noose around his neck, though police later said Smollett paid brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo — one of whom appeared on Empire as an extra — up to $3,500 to stage the attack.
Following the initial investigation, Smollett was indicted on 16 counts of felony disorderly conduct. Later, Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx's office dropped all charges after Smollett performed community service and forfeited his $10,000 bond, as he didn't have a violent criminal history. However, the decision led to questions of preferential treatment. In response, a special prosecutor was appointed by a judge in August 2019 and led to a second grand jury indicting him in this current case on six felony charges.
Prior to sentencing, the actor's lawyers asked the judge to hand down a lighter sentence than the recommended three years for every felony count, saying that Smollett had already been punished and experienced damage to his career. Supporters also echoed their concerns about his life and career, while also pointing out that Smollett could be targeted in prison because of his race, sexual orientation and Jewish heritage, per NBC 5 Chicago.
The New York Timesreported that while Linn did mention Smollett and his family's past social justice work, he also went on to say that he "took some scabs off some healing wounds," in order to "make [himself] more famous.”
At the hearing, Smollett — who previously testified that "there was no hoax" — continued to maintain his innocence, before stating he wasn't suicidal in case "anything happens" to him in jail.
“I am innocent,” he said. “I could have said I am guilty a long time ago.”
Read AP's full report here.
Photo via Getty / Nuccio DiNuzzo
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