Jussie Smollett is facing sentencing today, Thursday, Mar. 10, for his 2019 hate attack hoax. The former Empire star is facing three years in prison for reporting a fake homophobic and racist crime. In January 2019 while staying in Chicago, Smollett alleged he was beaten and had bleach thrown on him by two white attackers screaming "MAGA country." After Chicago PD spent hundreds of man hours on the investigation, two Nigerian brothers came forward and alleged that Smollett paid for them to orchestrate the attack. The motivation was allegedly Smollett being upset over hate mail he was reportedly sent to the set of his FOX drama series that he felt the network executives didn't take seriously. In the end, he was found guilty on five of six counts of disorderly conduct, a Class 4 felony. Now, high profile civil rights activists and celebrities are asking a judge to show him mercy.
Per BOSSIP, several supporters have written letters asking for leniency during his sentencing. Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., the president of the NAACP, and actor Samuel L. Jackson, sent letters urging Judge Linn to consider probation or other alternatives to prison.
In the letter, they note Smollett's history of community service and also the nonviolent aspect of the conviction. They also feel that the public scrutiny and embarrassment has been punishment enough. The letters also ask the judge to consider safety issues for the actor, adding that Smollett being a gay man with Jewish heritage in prison is dangerous.
But the defense believes Smollett will be made an example out of. Defense Attorney Kulmeet "Bob" Galhotra says Smollett may in fact serve jail time. "I think Linn might give him a taste of jail," Galhotra said. "That's my prediction. I don't think he's going to send him to [prison], I think he might give him a taste of jail time and put him on probation with lots of community service."
Smollett maintains his innocence, alleging the brothers tried to extort him out of $2 million and the investigation was mishandled. His legal team plans to appeal the guilty verdict.