Taraji P. Henson shared her support for her former “Empire” co-star Jussie Smollett following last week’s sentencing, calling for the actor to be released from jail.
Smollett was sentenced to five months behind bars last Thursday after being found guilty of lying to Chicago police about being the victim of a racist and homophobic attack.
“I am not here to debate you on his innocence but we can agree that the punishment does not fit the crime,” Henson wrote Sunday on Instagram. “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.”
Smollett has maintained his innocence since claiming two men hurled racist and homophobic slurs at him, put a rope around his neck and poured a chemical on him in January 2019.
He stood trial last fall and was found guilty on five counts of disorderly conduct in December.
“No one was hurt or killed during Jussie’s ordeal,” Henson wrote in her Instagram post. “He has already lost everything, EVERYTHING! 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.”
After learning his sentence from Judge James Linn last week, Smollett, 39, claimed at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse, “I am not suicidal. I am not suicidal, and I am innocent! I could’ve said that I was guilty a long time ago.”
Smollett began his 150-day sentence at Cook County Jail on Thursday.
“My prayer is that he is freed and put on house arrest and probation because in this case that would seem fair,” Henson said.
Over the weekend, Smollett’s brother Jocqui Smollett said the actor had been put in a psychiatric ward after officials allegedly determined he was a self-harm risk.
“I want to just make it clear to folks that he is in no way, shape or form at risk of self-harm,” Jocqui said in an Instagram video. “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.”