Smollett spent his first full day behind bars Friday after a judge sentenced him to 150 days, or five months, in prison for lying to police about a bogus hate crime he committed against himself.
A spokesperson for Smollett’s attorney said late Friday that his legal team has filed an emergency order requesting his release from prison during the appeals process. An appeals court judge ruled that prosecutors had five days to respond to the emergency request.
Smollett is currently in protective custody at the Cook County Jail, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office said in a written statement. This means that he is “being held in his own cell, which is monitored by the security cameras in the cell, and by officers who wear a body camera and are stationed at the entrance to the cell to ensure that Mr. Smollett is under close observation at all times.”
“He’s a high-profile defendant,” said ABC7 legal analyst Jill Soffer. “And if anyone is safe in prison, and the authorities want to make sure they are safe in prison, it’s him.”
As expected, Smollett’s defense attorney formally filed a notice of appeal on Friday. Soffer has been monitoring this case and likely sees no grounds for agreeing to the appeal.
“You see a strong case for appeal when a judge clearly excludes evidence that should have been accepted or accepted as evidence that should have been excluded,” Soffer said. “And I don’t see that happening here.”
Watch | Jussie Smollett’s emotional outburst in court
Thursday’s session ended in a big way as Smollett rose from his seat and declared his innocence and concern for his safety.
The 39-year-old was expressionless, and his family and others in the courtroom were shocked when Cook County Judge James Lane delivered the verdict.
“You will serve the first 150 days of your sentence in Cook County Jail, and that day will begin. Here, now,” said Judge Lane.
During sentencing, Lane referred to the extensive and inclusive litigation of attorneys before, during and after trial. He emphasized that the ruling was based only on what was presented in court and not on the interest in this case.
“People seem to care about this,” Lynn said. “People care passionately for a variety of reasons in this case, and the reasons are many.” “And let me be clear: the sentence which I have given and which I give to Mr. Smollett in no way mitigates any general feeling.”
In considering the sentencing, Lane said that Smollett’s “extreme” premeditation to commit the crime was an aggravating factor. He also said that the actor had denigrated the experiences of real hate crime victims, calling him an “impostor” and a liar.
“You went up on the witness stand. You didn’t have to. You did. You certainly have a right to it. But you committed hour after hour after hour of pure perjury,” said Lin.
Watch | Judge Lin reprimands Jussie Smollett for more than 30 minutes
While in prison, Smollett also began 30 months of probation in addition to being ordered to pay more than $120,000 in damages to the City of Chicago and a $25,000 fine.
Then the disgraced representative addressed the court.
“I’m not suicidal,” Smollett said. “I’m not a suicide! I’m innocent! And I’m not a suicide. If I do this, it means I got my fist in the fears of black Americans in this country for 400 years and the fears of the LGBTQ community. Honor, I respect you, and I respect the jury, but I didn’t do this, and I’m not suicide.” And if anything happened to me when I got in there, I didn’t do it myself!
The verdict came three months after Smollett was found guilty of five counts of felony disorderly conduct for lying to Chicago police.
“I didn’t think it would take this long, but the judge made it clear that he sees this crime as more than a simple felony, he sees it as harming hate crime victims everywhere,” said ABC7 legal analyst Gil Souffer.
Smollett was still proclaiming his innocence as he was taken out of court after the verdict was pronounced.
“I am innocent!” He said. “I could have said I was guilty a long time ago!”
Smollett requested that he be placed in protective custody and Lane signed an order requesting it, according to court documents filed after the hearing. The decision, though, is ultimately up to the sheriff’s office, which runs the prison and has a lot of leeway in how it manages a population of just over 6,000 detainees.
Smollett is being held in his own cell, which is monitored by CCTV and an officer wearing a body camera to ensure he is under close surveillance at all times, according to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office.
“Mr. Smollett is not being held in solitary confinement. The use of solitary confinement at the Cook County Jail was repealed in 2016, and any claims that he is being held in this manner are false. Mr. Smollett is held in his cell alone, which is monitored by security cameras in the cell and by an officer wearing a body-worn camera He is stationed at the entrance to the cell to ensure that Mr. Smollett is under direct observation at all times. As with all persons in custody, Mr… Smollett is entitled to spend significant time outside his cell in the common areas of his class, where he is able to use the telephone watching television and interacting with staff.During these times outside of the cell other detainees will not be present in the common areas.These protocols are routinely used for individuals ordered to be placed in protective custody who may be at risk of harm due to the nature of their charges, occupation or noteworthy status. Safety and security of all detained individuals, including Mr. Smollett, is the Sheriff’s Office’s highest priority.”
The procedure is neither unexpected nor unusual. High-profile detainees and other at-risk detainees are usually separated from the general prison population.
The Cook County Sheriff’s Department is evaluating Smollett and where and how he must be housed while serving his sentence. Smollett would only likely serve half of the 150 days if he got credit for good behavior.
Watch | Family defends Jussie Smollett’s innocence after sentencing
The ruling angered Smollett’s family, who criticized the judge after the verdict was pronounced.
“My brother Josie is innocent, and this shouldn’t be a controversial statement because it’s the ultimate truth,” said Josie’s sister, Jazz Smollett.
“My brother was disgraced,” said Josie Smollett, Josie’s brother. “Talk about his arrogance. He doesn’t know the suffering my brother is going through.”
Meanwhile, Special Prosecutor Dan Webb praised the judge.
“This was a course of behavior that deserved severe punishment,” Webb said. “I thought it was the right way to do it. And I think based on his sentencing, Judge Lin clearly understood what happened in this case.”
Smollett’s defense team said they were stunned and vowed to appeal.
“I’ve never seen in my entire career as a lawyer, and none of the other lawyers here have seen a situation where a fourth degree felony gets the same treatment as a violent crime,” defense attorney Nene Uchi said.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot applauded the judge’s ruling, writing: “Josie Smollett’s criminal conviction by a fellow jury and sentencing today should send a clear message to everyone in the city of Chicago that false allegations and allegations will not be tolerated. The malicious and fabricated allegations have been fully led Smollett has provided more than 1,500 hours of police work that has cost the city more than $130,000 in overtime police work. The city feels that its judgment today has been validated in that he will be held accountable and that we will receive appropriate compensation for his actions.”
The Sun Times MediaWire contributed to this report
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