Jussie Smollett walked out of the Cook County jail late Wednesday evening, March 16. The five-time convicted felon served only five nights before his release. Smollett’s 150-day sentence, imposed last week for manufacturing a hoax hate crime, was suspended Tuesday evening by an Illinois appellate court. Exiting jail, Mr. Smollett made no statements as security guards surrounded the actor, marching him past the waiting media into an SUV and whisking him away.
Reports from Chicago on Monday, March 14, said Smollett’s attorneys were filing an emergency motion asking a court to stay his sentence or grant bond while his appeal is underway. They were successful. The petition was granted by a 2-1 vote of the First District Illinois Appellate Court justices on the deciding panel. Justices Thomas Hoffman and Joy Cunningham agreed to grant the motion, while Justice Maureen Connors dissented. The single-page order left many questions unanswered, and no written opinions discussing either the majority holding or the dissent were released. The order was made:
“FINDING that the defendant has been convicted on non-violent offenses and that this Court will be unable to dispose of the instant appeal before the defendant would have served his entire sentence of incarceration.”
A Free Man?
Smollett was ordered to be released on a personal recognizance bond of $150,000, meaning he was able to walk out of jail on a signature promise to return without actually paying anything.
In addition to the 150-day term in jail, the sentence ordered Smollett to complete 30 months of felony probation, pay a fine of $25,000, and to repay the city $120,126 in restitution. The order from the appellate court does not discuss these aspects of Smollett’s sentence.
Mr. Smollett left his sentencing hearing loudly proclaiming his innocence, holding up a black power fist salute, and repeating that he was not suicidal. He claimed to have been the victim of a racist, homophobic attack and possibly even attempted murder. “We’ve been complaining about the disparate treatment of African Americans in the judicial system,” Smollett’s attorney Nenye Uche declared following his client’s release.
Jussie Smollett’s release order:
~ Read more from Scott D. Cosenza.