By Sandy Malone and Christopher Berg
Chicago, IL – An appeals court ordered the release of Jussie Smollett from jail Wednesday as he appeals his conviction for lying to law enforcement about a faked racially-charged attack on himself.
The court order set a $150,000 recognizance bond which does not require any up-front money, and only requires Smollett to sign the bond to get out of jail, according to New York Post.
Sources who are in constant touch with Smollett told TMZ that the actor fully expected he would be sentenced to time behind bars when he was initially sentences on March 10.
Smollett told his legal team ahead of sentencing that he thought he would receive a harsher sentence than other people convicted of non-violent crimes because he was black, according to the sources.
On March 10, he was sentenced to 150 days behind bars and 30 months of probation, plus $25,000 in fines and $120,106 in restitution.
The source said that after he was sentenced, Smollett called the sentence “unfortunate” and “sad” and said he had been on target with his predictions based on the animosity the judge showed when he read him the riot act before announcing the sentence, TMZ reported.
They also explained the meltdown Smollett had in the courtroom after he was sentenced as a reference to the late alleged sex trafficker, billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who died behind bars in a New York City detention center while awaiting trial.
Cook County Judge James Linn asked Smollett if he had any questions after he was sentenced and the actor lowered his mask and announced that he was not suicidal.
“I am not suicidal,” the actor repeated several times. Then he stood up and began yelling.
“And if anything happens to me when I go in there, I did not do it to myself,” Smollett announced.
His defense attorneys asked that Smollett be released pending appeal multiple times but the judge denied all of their requests. His legal team then filed a petition with the appeals court who agreed that Smollett should be released.
When he was first sentenced, the judge ordered Smollett taken into immediate custody and held in the Cook County jail for the first 150 days of his sentence.
“I am not suicidal,” Smollett yelled and held his fist up in the air in a black power salute as he was led from the courtroom by officers.
Before he sentenced Smollett, Linn called the actor “profoundly selfish and narcissistic” and said he had a “dark side.”
The judge said Smollett’s crimes were made worse by the fact his family was very involved in social justice activism – he called it “part of the fabric of their existence” – and said the actor knew what kind of crisis he would cause by reporting a faked hate crime.
“I don’t think money motivated you at all,” Linn said. “The only thing that I can find is that you really craved the attention and you wanted the attention.”
The judge said Smollett “took some scabs off some healing wounds and you ripped then apart because you wanted to make yourself more famous… you were actually throwing a national pity party for yourself.”
“You put the noose around your own neck” and “you lied to the police,” the judge lectured Smollett. “That’s why you’re here now.”
Linn said he ordered that the actor’s time be served in protective custody upon the request of his defense team, TMZ reported.
The Cook County Sheriff’s Office told TMZ that meant Smollett’s cell will have surveillance cameras and that officers who interacted with him would be wearing bodycams.
Smollett will have limited time outside his cell to use the phone and watch television, but no other inmates will be in the common areas at the same time, according to the sheriff’s department.
“The safety and security of all detained individuals, including Mr. Smollett, is the Sheriff’s Office’s highest priority,” a spokesman for the Cook County Sheriff’s Office told TMZ.
The sheriff’s department said Smollett underwent medical and mental health assessments upon arrival at the jail, as well as a security assessment.
A Cook County jury found Smollett guilty of faking a hate crime against himself in 2019 on Dec. 9, 2021.
The jury found the actor guilty of lying to police in five of the six disorderly conduct charges against him, CNN reported.
The sixth count was a charge for lying to a detective weeks after Smollett initially reported the attack to police, FOX News reported.
Each Class 4 felony count carried a sentence of up to three years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
The whole saga began when Smollett told police on Jan. 29, 2019 that he had been attacked by two white supporters of President Donald Trump on his way home from a Subway restaurant.
He claimed the men called him homophobic and anti-black slurs and told him “This is MAGA country” as they beat him up and put a noose around his neck. He also said they threw a chemical on him.
The incident sparked racial tensions and cost the city more than $130,000 to investigate before they determined that Smollett had hired two brothers he was friends with to fake the hate attack on him.