For the past three years, actor Jussie Smollett has been the martyr star of the long-drawn, legal circus.
But last Friday morning, the 39-year-old woke up as inmate #20220310140, one of 6,000 convicts and suspects in the Cook County Jail, serving the first day of a 150-day sentence for lying to police.
Smollett – who was once famous for his success in the music and TV world’s beloved show Empire – was sentenced to 150 days in prison.
The star had been convicted over the past five years, one count of disorderly conduct, of repeatedly lying to police in January and February 2019, when he claimed he was the victim of a racial hate attack.
Judge James Lynn yesterday granted Smollett ‘day for day’ eligibility, meaning that if he treats himself behind bars, he is likely to be released within 75 days – just two months.
Because of the low-level, nonviolent nature of Smollett’s crimes, he would not serve his time in state prison.
He is being held for two and a half months in the Cook County Jail, a stone’s throw from the courtroom and one of the largest prison complexes in the country.
He is currently being organized in Division Eight – reserved primarily for prisoners with injuries or illness. It is not clear whether he will serve the term of his sentence there or will be transferred after a health check-up.
An exterior view of the Cook County Jail, where Smollett begins his 150-day sentence. If he behaves, he will be released after 75 days, and is currently being held in the Division 8 – Medical Unit. There are 6,000 inmates in the prison who are either serving sentences of less than two years, or awaiting trial
Division 8 is what is known as a residential treatment unit. It is a two-wing facility and recently came into limelight for a COVID outbreak in which three inmates died.
Cook County Jail houses mostly suspects who are awaiting trial or awaiting sentencing, so there are a variety of violent and nonviolent suspects and criminals in the population.
Whose sentence has been given there quite light of two years or less.
Several parts of the prison have spacious dormitories where hundreds of men sleep row by row on cots. There are individual cell blocks for more violent or at-risk offenders.
During a visit to the prison for a 2017 feature in the New York Times about how it was upgraded, an inmate repeatedly stabbed two others.
An aerial view of the sprawling Cook County Jail complex where more than 6,000 inmates, spread over a dozen units, are awaiting sentencing or trial dates or serving sentences
Worst Jail: A solitary confinement at the Cook County Jail. Juicy is unlikely to be placed in either of these cells.
Inside the prison, there are cramped dorm rooms where hundreds of nonviolent criminals sleep side by side in cots. Smollett was convicted of five, nonviolent felonies. It’s not clear whether he’ll have to sleep in the dorm or be kept in a closet
A cell block in another part of the prison. Closed cells are more reserved for violent criminals
These are cells in Division 8- Medical Unit where Smollett is currently being held
In this September 29, 2011 file photo, inmates at Chicago’s Cook County Jail wait to be processed for release. Jussie must spend at least half of his 150-day sentence
In this September 29, 2011 file photo, inmates at the Cook County Jail in Chicago, line up to be processed for release
Starr was convicted in December of four counts of felony conduct on four counts of disorderly conduct—the lowest level of felony counts in Illinois.
Facing a maximum sentence of three years, his lawyers begged for a non-custodial sentence yesterday and enlisted Hollywood legends Samuel L. Jackson and Alfre Woodard to plead their case.
It was not enough to persuade Judge James Lynn to impose jail time.
After patiently listening to Smollett’s lawyers indicting the jury, media and prosecutors for his sentence, Lynn served a 150-day sentence and destroyed Smollett’s ‘astonishing hypocrisy’.
The actor has claimed that he is the victim of a racist and homophobic campaign by the Chicago Police Department and the Prosecutor’s Office.
He blamed former Chicago police chief Eddie Johnson – who is black – for going after him, and his brother yesterday angered Assistant Special Prosecutor Samuel Mendenhall – who is also black – that he was ‘lectured into racism. was not required.
In 2018, a violent brawl broke out in the mess hall, where dozens of inmates started fighting viciously under the stairs.
A petition for help is written April 10, 2020, at the window of the Cook County Jail maximum security unit in Chicago, Illinois, United States. In January 2022, over 800 inmates and staff tested positive for COVID.
COVID-19 quarantine tier with single cells at Division 11 of the Cook County Jail on May 20, 2020 in Chicago
Smollett is currently being held at the Medical Unit, Division 8. It is not clear whether he will be allowed to stay there.
As he was taken away in handcuffs, Smollett tore off his COVID-mask and shouted that if anything happened to him in custody it was in someone else’s hands.
He and his supporters say he is being unfairly punished because of his reputation and that someone else would have been spared prison for the crimes for which he was convicted.
He still maintains that he was telling the truth when he claimed he was beaten up by two white Trump supporters in January 2019.