Jussie Smollett says he should be released from prison for five to 75 days due to the risk of Covid
For the past three years, actor Jussie Smollett has been the star martyr in a long-running legal circus.
But last Friday morning, the 39-year-old woke up as inmate 20220310140, one of 6,000 convicts and suspects at the Cook County Jail, serving the first day of a 150-day sentence for lying to police.
Smollett – beloved in the music and television worlds for his success on Empire – was sentenced to 150 days in prison.
The star was convicted last year of five counts of disorderly conduct offenses for repeatedly lying to police in January and February 2019, when he claimed he was the victim of a racial hate attack.
Judge James Lane yesterday granted Smollett eligibility for a “one-to-one” which means that if he acts behind bars, he will likely be released within 75 days – just over two months.
Due to the low-level, nonviolent nature of Smollett’s crimes, he will not spend his time in a state prison.
Instead, he was placed for two and a half months in the Cook County Jail, a stone’s throw from the courthouse and one of the largest prison complexes in the country.
He is currently held in Section 8 – which is mostly reserved for injured or sick inmates. It remains unclear whether he will serve his sentence there, or whether he will be transferred after undergoing medical examinations.
An outside view of the Cook County Jail, where Smollett began his 150-day sentence. He will likely be allowed out after 75 days, if he acts, and he is currently detained in Section 8 – Medical Unit. The prison houses 6,000 inmates who are serving sentences of less than two years or awaiting trial
Section 8 is what is known as a residential treatment unit. It’s a two-wing facility and recently made headlines for the COVID outbreak that has killed three inmates.
The Cook County Jail mostly houses suspects awaiting trial or convicts awaiting sentencing, so there is a variety of violent and nonviolent suspects and convicts among the population.
Those who received significantly reduced sentences of two years or less.
In several sections of the prison there are huge dormitories where hundreds of men sleep in bunk beds arranged, row to row. There are individual dungeon blocks for the most violent or endangered offenders.
During the New York Times prison visit to 2017 feature About how he was promoted, one of the prisoners repeatedly stabbed two others.
An aerial view of the massive Cook County Jail complex where more than 6,000 inmates are spread across more than a dozen units, awaiting sentencing, trial or serving sentences dates
The worst of prison: the solitary confinement cell at the Cook County Jail. It is unlikely that Josie would be placed in one of these cells
Inside the prison are cramped bedrooms where hundreds of nonviolent offenders sleep side by side in bunk beds. Smollett was convicted of five nonviolent crimes. It is not clear whether he will have to sleep in a dorm or whether he will be placed in a cell
Cell block in another part of the prison. Locked cells are reserved for perpetrators of the most violent crimes
These are the cells in Section 8, the medical unit where Smollett is currently being held
In this file photo on September 29, 2011, inmates at the Cook County Jail in Chicago wait to be processed for release. Josie will have to serve at least half of his 150-day sentence
In this September 29, 2011 file photo, inmates queue up at the Cook County Jail in Chicago to be processed for release
The star was convicted in December of five counts of one of four offenses of disorderly conduct — the lowest level of felony in Illinois.
Facing a maximum sentence of three years, his lawyers yesterday requested a non-custodial sentence and hired Hollywood heavyweights Samuel L. Jackson and Alfre Woodard to plead their case.
It was not enough to convince Judge James Lane not to impose a prison sentence.
After patiently listening to Smollett’s lawyers blaming the jury, the media, and prosecutors for his conviction, Lane imposed a 150-day prison sentence and criticized Smollett’s “amazing hypocrisy.”
The actor claimed all the time to be the victim of a racist and homophobic campaign by the Chicago Police Department and the Attorney General’s Office.
He blamed former Chicago Police Chief Eddie Johnson – who is black – for stalking him, and his brother was angry yesterday with Assistant Special Prosecutor Samuel Mindenhall – who is also black – that they did not need a ‘lecture on racism’.
In 2018, a violent brawl erupted in the dining hall as dozens of inmates began a fierce fight at the bottom of the stairs.
A request for assistance is written on the window of the maximum security unit at the Cook County Jail in Chicago, Illinois, USA, April 10, 2020. In January 2022, more than 800 inmates and staff were tested for COVID
A single-cell COVID-19 quarantine layer at Section 11 of the Cook County Jail in Chicago on May 20, 2020
Smollett is currently detained in Section 8, Medical Unit. It is unclear whether he will be allowed to stay there
When he was led away in handcuffs, Smollett tore off his COVID mask and shouted that if anything happened to him in custody, it would be at the hands of someone else.
He and his supporters say he is being unjustly punished for his fame and that no one else would have escaped prison for the crimes for which he was convicted.
He still insists he was telling the truth when he claimed he was beaten up by two white Trump supporters in January 2019.
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