The sentence imposed by Cook County Judge James Linn on Thursday, March 10, 2022 sentencing Jussie Smollette to 150 days in Cook County jail for orchestrating a hate crime and lying to the police, 30 months’ probation and to pay the city of Chicago restitution of $120,000 and a $25,000 fine was excessive and unwarranted.
Judge Linn’s 45-minute explanation of the sentence indicated judicial bias and character assassination of Smollett. The judge made a number of inappropriate suppositions as to his perceptions of why Jussie may have committed the alleged hate crime against himself for example he said, “…you were actually throwing a national pity party for yourself.”
Judge Linn further accused Smollett of planning the hoax, writing a script and committing hours of perjury during his testimony.
The sentencing decision by a circuit court judge or a federal judge is one of the pillars in America’s criminal justice system. Individual judges must balance the conflict between securing equal justice under the law and punishing an individual with a sentence that is tailored to the crimes charged.
Judges who are fair struggle to impose a sentence that mitigates the background of the offender versus the harm the defendant is alleged to have caused to others.
Circuit court judges are the local voice for punishing those convicted of criminal behavior. In practice, disparity in sentencing outcomes results from individual judges who rule with inherent personal biases that are associated with “extralegal” factors such as race, ethnicity, economic status and prior encounters with the law.
When we view all of the facts in the Smollett case in contrast to the white defendants who have been found guilty of crimes of murder or causing great bodily harm to innocent citizens, we find gross disparities in sentencing and treatment of the defendant by the circuit judge.
Kyle Rittenhouse left Illinois to go and shoot innocent victims in Wisconsin and was celebrated by the circuit judge as a hero. Jason Van Dyke who engaged in a cover up and fired 16 shots in the body of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was given the lowest sentence possible for committing murder. Former Brooklyn Center, Minnesota police officer Kim Potter received a two-year sentence for killing 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop.
We believe that the judge’s decision to sentence Jussie Smollett was excessive and unwarranted for the crime that Jussie was convicted of disorderly conduct. The display of bias and consistent berating of the defendant by the judge was unnecessary and unwarranted. No one should have to stand before a judge and be treated in that manner.
We believe that the motives in this sentencing were purely political. This case indicates the level of discretionary injustice that many African American males face in the America judicial system.
The manner in the way judges conceptualize, classify, and determine sentencing someone from jail to probation is based on an individual judgement of the offender’s culpability, need for punishment and the characteristics of the offender.
We believe that when one weighs all relevant factors in this case, Jussie Smollett should not have received any jail time. We further believe that Jussie Smollett has already been punished by what he has already endured, the fine he paid, the restitution imposed and the court supervised probation.
This case is political, and it suggests that there is a larger motive on the part of the court and all parties involved in this prosecution.
Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a multi-racial, multi-issue, progressive, international organization that was formed in December 1996 by the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. through merging of two organizations he founded Operation PUSH People United to Serve Humanity (estab. 1971) and the Rainbow Coalition (estab. 1984). With headquarters in Chicago and offices in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and Oakland, the organization works to make the American Dream a reality for all citizens while advocating for peace and justice around the world. RPC is dedicated to improving the lives of all people by serving as a voice for the voiceless. Its mission is to protect, defend and gain civil rights by leveling the economic and educational playing fields while promoting peace and justice around the world.