Inside Jussie Smollett’s terrifying new prison

Jussie Smollett’s new digs are actually pretty terrifying — as you’d expect from a prison.

The “Empire” actor was in Cook County Jail will spend the next 150 days has faced hundreds of lawsuits over the years in which inmates have alleged overcrowding, violent treatment, and inadequate protection from other inmates.

In just the last few months, a person behind bars accused the prison of forcing him to share a cell with someone who had tested positive for the coronavirus.

And in another lawsuit filed earlier this year and obtained by The Post, another inmate accused correctional officers of using “excessive force” on him, to the point where he “lost consciousness.”

“When I came back I was face down in a pool of my own blood with a cut on my forehead,” the man said in the first complaint, filed on Jan. 13, 2022.

Jussie Smollett was sentenced to five months in Chicago's Cook County Jail.
Jussie Smollett was sentenced to five months in Chicago’s Cook County Jail.
Cook County Jail
This September 29, 2011 photo shows Section 5 in the background of Chicago's Cook County Jail, the nation's second largest county jail, where inmates are being prepared for release.
This September 29, 2011 photo shows Section 5 of Chicago’s Cook County Jail, the nation’s largest single-site jail.
M. Spencer Green
William, a 62-year-old inmate, sits on his bottom bunk solving a word puzzle at Division 2 Dorm 2 of Cook County Jail in Chicago June 26, 2014.
William, 62, sits on his bottom bunk solving a word puzzle in Division 2, Dormitory 2 of the Cook County Jail on June 26, 2014.
Charles Rex Arbogast
Inmates queue to be processed for release on September 29, 2011.
Inmates queue to be processed for release on September 29, 2011.
M. Spencer Green
A US veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder is being held in a segregated holding facility at the Cook County Jail after being arrested on narcotics charges in Chicago.  The Chicago complex is one of the largest single prisons in the country, with more than 10,600 inmates.
A US veteran reportedly suffering from post-traumatic stress is in isolation at the Cook County Jail in 2014 after being arrested on narcotics charges in Chicago.
Charles Rex Arbogast
Inmates await release.
Inmates await release.
M. Spencer Green

In 2008, prison conditions appeared to be so poor that the United States Department of Justice conducted an investigation and published a report it found that the prison “had failed to adequately protect inmates from harm or threat of harm from other inmates or staff; failed to provide adequate suicide prevention; adequate hygienic environmental conditions have not been established; have not taken adequate fire safety precautions; and failed to provide adequate medical and mental health care.”

The report also claimed that inmates were forced to sleep on the floor of the cell due to overcrowding, prompting a class action lawsuit and settlement.

A more recent incident in 2018 saw a huge, violent one Brawl broke out and dozens of inmates were injured.

Accordingly Chicago’s human rights agency, approximately 100,000 people circulate through the prison annually. The daily population averages 7,500, mostly people awaiting trial and not yet convicted.

The prison sits on a whopping 96-acre property and ranks as the “largest single-site prison in the country,” the website says. It consists of 10 departments, each with a common room for eating and watching TV. There is also a health care facility, a privatized food service and commissary department, and four on-site sheriff’s departments.

smollett, who was convicted of five crimes, including lying to police about a hate crime, was taken to the prison’s Unit 8 – the Residential Treatment Unit, or RTU, which is normally reserved for inmates with injuries or illnesses.

This booking photo, provided by the Cook County Sheriff's Office, shows Jussie Smollett.
Smollett in a booking photo provided by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office

In a statement to The Post, a Cook County Sheriff’s Office official said that while Smollett “is not being held in solitary confinement” — a practice the prison “abolished” in 2016 — the performer “is housed in his own cell, which monitored by surveillance cameras in the cell and by a body-worn officer stationed at the entrance to the cell to ensure that Mr Smollett is under direct observation at all times.

“Like all detainees, Mr. Smollett has the right to have ample time outside of his cell in the common areas on the floor where he is being held, where he can make phone calls, watch television and interact with staff,” the statement went on . “During such out-of-cell times, other inmates will not be present in the common areas. These protocols are routinely used for those placed in protective custody who may be at risk of harm because of the nature of their charges, their occupation, or their distinguished status.

“The safety of all detainees, including Mr. Smollett, is a top priority for the sheriff’s office,” the department concluded.

After the judge delivered his verdict, the “Empire” actor continued to deny any wrongdoing — even as he was being sent to the Cook County Jail.

Jussie Smollett exits Cook County Jail in Chicago.
Smollett is escorted by security guards at the Cook County Jail.

“I am innocent!” said Smollett, 39, as he was taken away in handcuffs. “I could have said I was guilty a long time ago!”

“I didn’t do that and I’m not suicidal and if something happens to me when I go there, I didn’t do it to myself and you all need to know that,” he said.

Although sentenced to five months, he was released from prison in two months for overcrowding.

Smollett will serve this as part of the 30-month suspended sentence Judge James Linn sentenced him to, along with Linn’s orders to pay the City of Chicago $120,000 in damages and a subsequent $25,000 fine Five count guilty verdict of criminal misconduct.

https://nypost.com/2022/03/11/inside-jussie-smolletts-terrifying-new-prison-home/ Inside Jussie Smollett’s terrifying new prison

Dais Johnston

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