Jussie Smollett begins 150-day prison sentence in protected status

CHICAGO (AP) — Jussie Smollett began a 150-day prison sentence for staging a hate crime against himself in protective custody, separated from other inmates and monitored by security cameras and an officer, the authorities announced Friday. prison authorities.

Sheriff’s deputies immediately took Smollett to the Cook County Jail on Thursday night after Judge James Linn sentenced the actor to 30 months felony probation – starting with a five-month jail term – for lying to the police that he had been the target of a racist and homophobic attack.

Smollett has loudly claimed his innocence and suggested he could be killed in prison.

“Your honor, I respect you and I respect the jury, but I didn’t do this,” Smollett said Thursday. “And I’m not suicidal. And if anything happens to me when I go in there, I haven’t done it to myself.

Smollett’s sentencing could end – pending appeals – more than three years of legal drama following the actor’s report to police that two men wearing ski masks beat and beat him up. hurled racial and homophobic slurs down a dark Chicago street and fled.

Smollett’s attorneys filed an emergency injunction Friday seeking Smollett’s release pending his appeal. An appeals court judge ruled that prosecutors had five days to respond to the emergency motion, WMAQ-TV reported.

His attorneys also filed a notice of appeal in Cook County Criminal Court. They had said late Thursday that they planned to appeal the jury’s guilty verdict and the judge’s sentence.

A day earlier, a judge sentenced Smollett to 150 days in the Cook County Jail following his conviction for lying to police about being the victim of a hoax hate crime in 2019. Smollett was also sentenced to 30 months probation for a felony, ordered to pay more than $120,000 in restitution to the city of Chicago, and was fined $25,000.

He began his sentence immediately after learning of his fate on Thursday.

In a statement on Friday, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office said Smollett was being held in protective custody – typical for people “who may be at risk of harm due to the nature of their charges, occupations or circumstances.” their remarkable status.

Smollett has his own cell, monitored by security cameras and an officer posted at the door wearing a body camera, the sheriff’s office said. Smollett may have “substantial time” in common areas to use the phone, watch television and interact with staff, but other inmates will not be in common areas with him.

Smollett faces up to three years in prison for each of the five disorderly conduct charges – the charge filed for lying to police – of which he was convicted. He was acquitted on a sixth count.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot welcomed the sentence, saying it sent the message that “misrepresentations and allegations” would not be tolerated.

“The city feels vindicated in today’s decision that he is held accountable and that we will receive appropriate compensation for his actions,” she said in a statement.

Smollett’s sentence includes a $120,106 restitution payment to the city and a $25,000 fine.

Smollett was convicted at a jury trial in December, where witnesses included two brothers who told jurors that Smollett had paid them to carry out the attack and gave specific instructions on what to do and to say.

Smollett, who knew the men from his work on the television show “Empire” filmed in Chicago, testified that he did not recognize them and did not know they were the men attacking him.

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