What Will Jussie Smollett's Life Be Like In Jail?

The saga surrounding Jussie Smollett and what is being referred to as the "Empire" star's staged attack from 2019 has led to official consequences. The actor claimed to police at the time that he was attacked by two masked white men shouting racist and homophobic slurs. The assailants claimed they faked the crime with Smollett for money. After three years of a messy timeline, Judge James Linn issued the actor's sentence on March 10, and Smollett was quick to shout out, "I'm innocent!" After briefly addressing the judge to firmly maintain his innocence and make it known that he was not suicidal heading into jail, deputies proceeded to lead him out of the courtroom.

Smollett's sentencing inspired a fiery statement from Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, per the New York Post. She stated that his criminal conviction "should send a clear message" to those in Chicago "that false claims and allegations will not be tolerated." Lightfoot referred to Smollett's report of the hate crime as "malicious and wholly fabricated," noting that the investigation amassed "1500 hours of police work that cost the city over $130,000 in police overtime."

AP News reported that special prosecutor Dan Webb said that Smollett's behavior and the effects of this case "will discourage others who are victims of hate crimes from coming forward and reporting those crimes to law enforcement." With no extensive criminal history and the fact that this crime was non-violent, experts were not anticipating Smollett serving time in prison. They were greatly mistaken.

Jussie Smollett will serve his sentence in Cook County Jail

Despite his attorneys hoping for a limited sentence of community service, Jussie Smollett was sentenced to 30 months of felony probation. This includes 150 days in jail — which will be carried out in the Cook County Jail in Chicago — and an order for the actor to pay restitution amounting more than $120,000, per CNN. The false reports Smollett made to police in January 2019 will also cost him an additional $25,000.

The Cook County Jail is located in central Chicago near the courthouse, currently housing 6,000 inmates, many of whom, according to the Daily Mail, are Black men awaiting trial. Inmates serving time at this location are typically those with sentences of two years or less. The outlet reported that upon his arrival, the former "Empire" star was being held in the Division 8 Residential Treatment Unit — a facility that made headlines in 2020 for a COVID-19 outbreak, the death of three detainees from the virus, and poor sanitary conditions.

Cook County Jail has large dormitories with rows of bunks for hundreds of men to sleep. It is unclear where Smollett will be placed at this time, but single cell blocks are typically reserved for either violent or at-risk inmates. Judge James Linn noted that good behavior from Smollett could lessen the 150-day sentence to half, allowing him to serve just over two months.