As actor Jussie Smollett was sentenced to 150 days in jail for faking a hate crime against him in 2019, he maintained his innocence and insisted that he could be killed in jail, the Associated Press reports. On the advice of his attorneys, he did not to make a statement in court before Judge James Linn announced his sentence. As soon as Linn announced the sentence, Smollett removed his face mask and insisted that he did not commit the crime for which he was found guilty. He said, "I am not suicidal. And if anything happens to me when I go in there, I did not do it to myself. And you must all know that.” In addition to his jail term, Smollett was sentenced to 30 months' probation, $120,106 in restitution to the city of Chicago for the investigative resources that were wasted to check his false claims, and a $25,000 fine.
The judge imposed jail time in spite of several high-profile letters in support of Smollett, including from the president of the NAACP and actor Samuel L. Jackson. They argued that Smollett had been punished enough by the damage to his career and entanglement in the criminal justice system, and that as a gay man he faced special risk in jail. Linn was unconvinced, calling Smollett a narcissist and saying that he was astounded Smollett had faked the attack given his heritage and involvement in social justice work. The state's attorney for Cook County, Kim Foxx, originally declined to bring the charges and wrote a column critical of the sentencing and the case overall. She said that it was wrong for special prosecutors to be appointed to take on a case she had declined to bring, especially as other violent crimes go unresolved. Still, special prosecutors and critics of Smollett insisted that faking a hate crime seriously eroded protections for others and that Smollett needed to be held accountable.