Disgraced actor Jussie Smollett has not even served a full week yet of his 150-day sentence and his legal team is working furiously to get him released, even playing the COVID-19 card.
Smollett was convicted in December of five counts of felony lying to police after authorities say he staged his own hate crime, paying two Nigerian brothers to beat him up and then blaming the incident on Trump supporters. When convicted he cried out repeatedly in court that he wasn’t suicidal and suggested that he would be harmed in jail. The courtroom drama being a good indication that Smollett wasn’t about to go away quietly.
He is reportedly being held in the psychiatric ward of the Cook County Jail. Smollett’s brother, Jocqui Smollett, said there was a note “put on the front of his jail cell saying that he’s at risk of self-harm.” He added that his brother “is in no way, shape or form at risk of self harm and he wants to let folks know that he is very stable, he is very strong, he is very healthy and ready to take on the challenge that ultimately has been put up against him.”
Smollett’s legal team submitted an emergency motion in the appellate court on Monday, claiming he should never have been convicted, the Daily Mail reported. The motion also cites a medical doctor’s opinion that the actor is at “serious health risk” if he contracts COVID-19 behind bars because he has a compromised immune system.
“It is my opinion that the incarceration of Mr. Smollett, in jail or in prison, poses a substantially increased risk to his health,” Dr. Michael D. Freeman said, according to the document. “The COVID-19 pandemic is an ongoing pandemic…As of March 2022, the pandemic has caused more than 445million cases and approximately 6million deaths worldwide.”
“Incarceration in a jail or prison setting poses a heightened danger to Mr. Smollett’s health when taking his current health status, including compromised immunity, into account,” the physician added.
— Joseph Morris (@JosephMorrisYT) March 14, 2022
In asking the court to stay his sentence or grant him bond, Smollett’s attorneys argued that “vicious threats” against him on social media indicate the violence that he “may experience during incarceration,” Yahoo Entertainment reported.
The convenient catch here being that by putting Smollett into what equates to solitary confinement because of alleged threats, that could cause “extraordinary damage” to his mental health.
As Yahoo noted, the Cook’s County Sheriff’s Office clarified that Smollett was being held in “protective custody status,” which means that he has his own cell which is monitored by cameras inside and by an officer stationed outside.
“As with all detained persons, Mr. Smollett is entitled to have substantial time out of his cell in the common areas on the tier where he is housed, where he is able to use the telephone, watch television, and interact with staff,” a spokesperson said. “During such times out of cell, other detainees will not be present in the common areas. These protocols are routinely used for individuals ordered into protective custody who may potentially be at risk of harm due to the nature of their charges, their profession, or their noteworthy status.”
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