On Thursday, a judge in Chicago sentenced actor Jussie Smollett to five months in prison, ordering that the actor be imprisoned for falsely reporting to the police that he had been the victim of a racist and homophobic attack in 2019. The actor had falsely reported to the police that he had been the victim of a racist and homophobic attack in 2019.
Mr. Smollett was publicly excoriated from the bench at the conclusion of a hearing that lasted approximately five hours. The judge stated that he had reached the conclusion that the actor had premeditated the hoax and that, despite his and his family’s admirable past work in social justice.
He said that Mr. Smollett’s name had become synonymous with lying, that he had attempted to throw a “National Pity Party” for himself, and that Mr. Smollett’s conduct had undermined other victims of hate crimes at a sensitive time when America was trying to climb out of its painful history of racism.
Mr. Smollett refused to speak in front of the court prior to his sentence when given the opportunity. Nevertheless, once Judge Linn pronounced his sentence, the actor firmly stood up and proclaimed, “I did not do this, and I am not suicidal,” and further stated that “if anything happens to me when I walk into that room, I did not do it to myself.” Mr. Smollett lifted his right fist as he was being brought into custody to begin his prison term on Tuesday. His attorneys immediately said that they intended to file an appeal.
During the hearing, both the defence and the prosecution offered starkly divergent perspectives on Mr. Smollett’s alleged criminal conduct. In their view, it was a planned attempt to mislead law enforcement and the public at a time when hate crimes were on the increase, according to the prosecution. Mr. Smollett’s attorneys described it as a small, low-level criminal that had received an excessive amount of prosecution attention because to the celebrity nature of the case.
According to Nenye Uche, a lawyer representing Mr. Smollett, “Why are we jumping up and down and behaving like this is a murder case?” he said. “It isn’t,” says the author.
Mr. Smollett, according to Daniel K. Webb, the special prosecutor in charge of the case, had made things worse for himself by asserting his innocence in front of the jury, according to the special prosecutor.
Mr. Smollett had been convicted guilty of felony disorderly conduct during his trial, which carries a term of up to three years in jail if proved guilty in court. The court opted on a lesser sentence, which will be spent in a local jail, and also sentenced Mr. Smollett to more than two years of probation and a fine of $25,000, in addition to the reduced sentence. In addition, he was sentenced to pay more than $120,000 in reparations for the costs of the Chicago Police Department’s investigation into his actions.
Before the sentencing, well-known figures such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Samuel L. Jackson and his wife, the actress LaTanya Richardson Jackson, and Derrick Johnson, the president of the National Association of African-American Civil Liberties, wrote letters to the judge pleading with him to forego prison time on the grounds of racial profiling. Defendants maintained that Mr. Smollett had no prior offences on his record and that he had suffered reputational harm as a result of the police accusing him of arranging an alleged fake attack on a gay nightclub.
According to Mr. Webb’s recommendation on Thursday, Mr. Smollett should be imprisoned for an undefined period of time, stating that his wrongdoing was significant, that he lied to the jury, and that he had exhibited no sign of repentance or remorse throughout the trial process.
As Mr. Webb said to the court, “What Smollett did in this case was belittle legitimate hate crimes, and he minimised the individuals who are genuine victims of hate crimes.”
Earlier this month, a 12-member jury convicted Mr. Smollett guilty of five out of six charges of felony disorderly conduct stemming from his police complaint, according to court documents.
After refusing the defense’s request to have the verdict overturned or for the actor to be given a new trial, Judge Linn revealed his judgement on the matter.
A significant portion of the hearing was dedicated to attempts by the defence to argue that Mr. Smollett deserved a new trial and that he should not be imprisoned. Several members of his family, including his elder brother, Joel Smollett Jr., and other supporters, including Rich Daniels, a former musical director for “Empire,” were present in the courtroom at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse. During his testimony, Mr. Daniels addressed Mr. Smollett’s character, providing instances of what supporters regarded as a kind and modest disposition on his part.
Incarceration of any type, said Joel Smollett Jr., as Jussie Smollett wiped tears from his eyes, “would send the wrong message at a time when we as a country have spoken, in a bipartisan majority, our desire to see meaningful criminal justice reform.”