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Jussie Smollett released from jail pending conviction appeal

The 'Empire' actor was sentenced to an initial 150 days in jail last week for lying to police about being the victim of a hate crime

By Hollie Geraghty

Jussie Smollett arriving at court with his mother, Janet.
Jussie Smollett arriving at court with his mother, Janet, on the first day of his trial in December last year (Photo: Alamy).

Jussie Smollett was ordered to be released from prison yesterday (March 16) pending a court appeal about his conviction for lying about a hate crime.

He left jail yesterday after an appeals court granted an emergency motion from the ‘Empire’ actor’s lawyers, which sought to delay his sentence and grant bond until a decision on his appeal is made.

Last week, he was sentenced to immediately start serving 150 days in jail for a five-felony count of disorderly conduct after he lied to the police about being the victim of a racist and homophobic attack in January 2019.

According to Deadline, the actor was silent as he left jail, while his attorney Nenye Uche told media that Smollett only drank water for the past six days and consumed no food.

After his sentencing last week, Smollett reportedly yelled “I am not suicidal”, adding “If anything happens to me in there, I did not do it”.

He was found guilty in December 2021 after he told police in Chicago that he had been assaulted by two attackers shouting racist and homophobic slurs and pro-Trump slogans, whilst throwing a “chemical substance” on him and tying a noose around his neck.

Samuel L Jackson, Alfre Woodard and ‘Empire’ co-star Taraji P Henson are among high-profile figures who had urged against prison time.

Woodard, Jackson and his wife LaTanya Richardson Jackson wrote to the case judge to not sentence the actor to prison time.

Jackson wrote that Smollett “comes from a good family” that could “provide the support and monitoring assistance that they can provide for him in an alternative probation scenario.”

He continued: “Jussie has already suffered a great deal of punishment, as this situation has destroyed his existing career and impugned his reputation. Please Judge Linn, in God’s name, please save this young man and allow him to be of service. Jussie Smollett is worth the risk and the investment.”

Henson shared a similar sentiment on social media. “I am not here to debate you on his innocence but we can agree that the punishment does not fit the crime,” she wrote.

“No one was hurt or killed during Jussie’s ordeal. He has already lost everything, EVERYTHING!” she continued.

She added: “No one in Hollywood will hire him and again as an artist who loves to create, that is prison.”