Jussie Smollett Freed from County Jail during appeal after Faking a Hate Crime

 Jussie Smollett Freed from County Jail during appeal after Faking a Hate Crime

photo: cnn

After six nights in jail, Jussie Smollett was released after an appeals court agreed with his lawyers that he should be released pending the appeal of his conviction for lying to police about a racist and homophobic attack.

On Wednesday, the former “Empire” actor was led out of the Cook County Jail by security. As he walked into an awaiting SUV, he said nothing, but his lawyers said Smollett, who is Black and gay, was the victim of a racist justice system and people playing politics.

Smollett was sentenced to 150 days in jail by a Cook County judge last week after being guilty of five felony charges of disorderly conduct for lying to police.

In an outburst immediately after the sentence was handed down, Smollett proclaimed his innocence and said “I am not suicidal. And if anything happens to me when I go in there, I did not do it to myself. And you must all know that.”

Smollett might be released after posting a $150,000 personal recognizance bond, which means he doesn’t have to put money down but agrees to appear in court as required.

Smollett defense attorney Nenye Uche, speaking to reporters outside the jail after Smollett left, said the Smollett family is “very happy with today’s developments.” Uche said during his time at the jail, Smollett had not eaten and drank only water, though he did not say why.

He criticized the special prosecutor’s decision to re-charge Smollett after the initial charges were dismissed and he paid a fine by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.

He also said Judge James Linn’s sentence for a low-level felony was excessive, and that the appellate court doesn’t “play politics.”

“The real question is: Should Black men be walked into jail for a class 4 felony? Shame on you if you think they should,” Uche said. Special prosecutor Dan Webb recommended that Smollett serve “an appropriate amount of prison time” during sentencing.

“His conduct denigrated hate crimes,” Webb said after the hearing. “His conduct will discourage others who are victims of hate crimes from coming forward and reporting those crimes to law enforcement.”

Smollett’s attorneys argued that by the time the appeal process was concluded, he would have served his sentence and that if he stayed in Cook County Jail, he would be in danger of physical violence.

In a response to Smollett’s motion, the special prosecutor’s office rejected the assertion that his health and safety were in jeopardy “factually incorrect,” adding that Smollett was being held in protective custody at the jail.

The court’s decision is the latest chapter in a strange saga that began in January 2019 when Smollett reported to Chicago police that he had been attacked by two men wearing ski masks in a racist and homophobic attack.

The manhunt for the attackers quickly devolved into an inquiry into Smollett, who was arrested on charges of organizing the incident and lying to police about it.

Smollett reportedly paid two men he knew from his employment on the TV show “Empire” to stage the attack, according to authorities. Prosecutors said he told them what racist and homophobic slurs to yell, as well as to yell that Smollett was in “MAGA Country,” a reference to Donald Trump’s campaign slogan.

In December, a jury found Smollett convicted of five felony counts of disorderly conduct, which is the charge made when someone lies to the police. On the sixth count, he was found not guilty. Smollett was sentenced to 150 days in jail by Judge James Linn last Thursday, with the possibility of a decrease if he maintains good behavior he could have been released in as little as 75 days.

Throughout the trial, Smollett maintained his innocence. He shouted at the judge during the sentence that he was innocent, warning him that he was not suicidal and that if he died in custody, it would be someone else, not him, who would have taken his life.

When Jussie learned the news, Uche claimed the first thing he did was push his palms against the glass between them, and that he had nearly given up hope in the US constitutional system. “I think he had nearly given up,” Uche said.

The next move, he said, will be to appeal the verdict.

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