Taraji P. Henson, Samuel L. Jackson Support Jussie Smollett, Believe ‘Punishment Does Not Fit the Crime’

·3 min read

After Jussie Smollett was sentenced to 150 days in jail and 30 months of probation for staging a hate crime against himself, the former “Empire” star is at the center of a #FreeJussie campaign with fellow actors speaking out.

Alfre Woodard, Samuel L. Jackson, his wife LaTanya Richardson Jackson, and more previously asked Illinois Judge James B. Linn to not sentence Smollett to prison time in a letter written to the judge. Jackson wrote that Smollett “comes from a good family” that can “provide the support and monitoring assistance that they can provide for him in an alternative probation scenario.”

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The “Pulp Fiction” star 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.”

Smollett was sentenced on March 10 after falsely alleging in 2019 that he was attacked by two men using racist and homophobic slurs. Judge Linn stated that Smollett “selfishly, arrogantly, and narcissistically” staged the attack to satisfy his “craving” need for attention.

Smollett maintained his innocence and announced during the recent court sentencing that he was “not suicidal” and implied possible future harm while in prison. The actor was later placed in the psychiatric ward at Cook County Jail.

Smollett’s “Empire” co-star Taraji P. Henson later issued a statement via Instagram condemning the sentence. See below.

“I am not here to debate you on his innocence but we can agree that the punishment does not fit the crime,” Henson wrote. “Emmett Till was brutally beat and ultimately murdered because of a lie and none of the people involved with his demise spent one day in jail, even after Carolyn Bryant admitted that her claims were false. No one was hurt or killed during Jussie’s ordeal. He has already lost everything, EVERYTHING!”

Henson continued, “To me, as an artist, not able to create that in itself is punishment enough. He can’t get a job. No one in Hollywood will hire him and again as an artist who loves to create, that is prison. My prayer is that he is freed and put on house arrest and probation because in this case that would seem fair. Please #FreeJussie.”

Gabrielle Union and Leslie Jordan shared their support for Henson’s social media post.

The co-Director of the Illinois Innocence Project also said ahead of sentencing, as reported by CBS News Chicago anchor Charlie De Mar, “If the system doesn’t treat a high profile defendant justly, then what can be expected for the rest of us?”

Smollett’s last screen credit is for “Empire” in 2019. He previously starred in the film “Marshall” and the TV series “Star.”

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