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After Jussie Smollett's Sentencing, Former Empire Co-Star Taraji P. Henson Speaks Up In His Defense

Jussie Smollett has received his official sentence after over two years of legal deliberations and several dramatic turns. Many people, however, are not satisfied with the outcome of his trial - including his former Empire co-star Taraji P. Henson. 

Taraji P. Henson took to Instagram to speak out against the sentencing of her past co-star Jussie Smollett. Take a look at her message below: 

Taraji P. Henson posted a simple black square with the phrase #FREEJUSSIE in white text, accompanied by a long caption that spoke up in defense of Jussie Smollett. She didn't want to "debate" on his innocence, but spoke about the scope of the punishment. According to Taraji P. Henson, the consequences of Jussie Smollett’s trial do "not fit the crime." She also supported him back in 2019 when the controversy originally began to swirl around his claims of an attack, after his character was written off of Empire (although his return was speculated by fans). 

The Empire actress also made a reference to Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African American boy who was lynched in 1955 by a pair of white Southerners. Taraji P. Henson compared the situations by stating that no one was reprimanded for the murder of Emmett Till, and that "no one was hurt or killed during Jussie’s ordeal," making it less worthy of a prison sentence. She also attested that Jussie’s punishment would make it impossible for him to be hired in the entertainment industry ever again, noting that not being able to create is "prison" for an artist and "punishment enough."

In lieu of a prison sentence, Taraji P. Henson expressed the hope that Jussie Smollett would only be put on house arrest and probation because "that would seem fair" in this case. The comments were turned off on her post, although social media users on both sides of the issue had mixed reactions to Jussie Smollett’s sentencing on other platforms. In addition to Taraji P. Henson, other celebrities have expressed their support for Jussie Smollett on social media, including his siblings Jurnee, Jazz, and Jake, as well as Pose star Indya Moore. 

After being accused of orchestrating a false hate crime in 2019, Jussie Smollett was convicted of lying on the stand. He was recently sentenced to 30 months of federal probation, which is set to include 150 days in prison. He will also be required to pay a fine of $25,000, as well as restitution to the tune of $120,000. According to CNN, Jussie Smollett maintained his innocence after the judge’s sentencing and claimed that he was "not suicidal," in the event that anything should happen to him. 

Jussie Smollett’s attorney Tina Glandian petitioned the court for a new trial, but her request was denied. CNN reported that his team is in the process of appealing the judge’s decision. This story is still developing, so be sure to check back for more updates. 

Actor, singer, and occasional dancer. Likes: fashion, books, old buildings. Dislikes: cilantro, the NJ Turnpike, sneaker wedges.