WATCH ALL YOUR FAVORITE BET SHOWS

Taraji P. Henson Says Jussie Smollett's 'Punishment Does Not Fit The Crime'

Henson compared Smollett's jail sentence to the woman whose lie led to Emmett Till's murder.

Last week, actor Jussie Smollett was sentenced to 150 days in jail after being convicted of lying to police about being the victim of a hate crime.

While Cook County Judge James Linn excoriated the former Empire star for being “profoundly arrogant, selfish, and narcissistic" and fabricating an attack, many of Smollett's family and friends have launched the #FreeJussie campaign to help clear his name.

On Sunday, Taraji P. Henson took to Instagram to support her friend and former co-star.

"I am not here to debate you on his innocence but we can agree that the punishment does not fit the crime," Henson wrote on the social media platform before comparing Smollett to the white woman who falsely accused Emmett Till of harassing her, which led to his horrific lynching in 1955.

"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," Henson continued. "No one was hurt or killed during Jussie’s ordeal. He has already lost everything, EVERYTHING!"

Henson, who played Smollett's mom for five seasons on the hit Fox drama Empire, said the actor has suffered enough because he's been prevented from working in Hollywood since the 2019 incident took place.

"To me as an artist, not [being] able to create that in itself is punishment enough," she wrote on Instagram. "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. My prayer is that he is freed and put on house arrest and probation because in this case that would seem fair. Please #freejussie"

RELATED: Jussie Smollett Assigned Bed In Jail Psych Ward

Henson isn't the only one showing support for Smollett. Lovecraft Country star Jurnee Smollett also took to social media to show support for her big brother.

"Black Americans are incarcerated in state prisons at nearly five times the rate of White Americans. Jussie is innocent," she wrote on Instagram. "And…you don’t have to believe in his innocence to believe he should be free."

Latest News

Subscribe for BET Updates

Provide your email address to receive our newsletter.


By clicking subscribe, I agree to receive newsletters, marketing communications, updates, special offers (including partner offers), and other information from BET and the Paramount family of companies. For more information about our data practices, consult our Privacy Policy.