Jussie Smollett: Will Prison Help Him?


Speculation abounds about whether Jussie Smollett will actually get time in prison when he is sentenced in early 2022 for his recent conviction. He is facing a possible sentence of three years in prison. Smollett is a non-violent, first-time offender, who no doubt has a shot at avoiding prison altogether. The judge has the discretion to sentence him to probation, fines and hundreds of community service hours. But many experts are vocally calling for Smollett to serve time behind bars for what he did. Smollett faces sentencing after a jury convicted him on five felony counts of disorderly conduct for reporting fake hate crimes, are legal experts divided on whether the actor will spend time behind bars. The main argument for prison for Smollett is to make an example out of such a high-profile case and deter others.


No one wants to serve time in prison. However, if doing time in prison is inevitable, the time does not have to be a waste, especially for someone as young and talented as Jussie Smollett.

“A prison sentence is the penalty box, not the coffin,” is something we like to remember.

So, except in the extreme cases the likes of Bernie Madoff, we can assert with confidence that there is life after prison. Our team at White Collar Advice is proof certain. Fully understanding that one day the prison sentence comes to an end can help people make the best out of their circumstances and emerge better from the journey.

People in this predicament can also use this piece of advice:

Do not let the government get your sentence plus the rest of your life.

As long as Smollett or anyone else in a similar situation is paying back their debt to society, i.e., serving their sentence, he should be able to continue to grow as a person, and eventually get back control of his life.

To be sure, people facing a prison sentence are often afraid of the journey ahead and unsure about the future. They are familiar with the stories about prison and the stigma that accompanies a felony conviction. For a celebrity like Smollett, the journey can be even more challenging.

When helping people prepare for prison, however, we choose to focus on the fact that prison can be an opportunity of a lifetime. People are known to accomplish amazing things in prison for the better–from preparing to run a marathon, to writing books, to getting college and master’s degrees, even Ph.D.’s. 

The key to Smollett realizing his goals despite having to serve time in prison will be how he chooses to respond to this adversity. 

In general, success requires that people respond to the adversity of prison time with the thought of becoming more than anyone expects of a person sentenced to prison. 

Smollett can focus on the opportunity ahead. The time to re-evaluate things, reflect and reframe his plans for the future. Rather than obsess over what is gone or missing, Smollett can focus on what remains.

Jussie Smollett Can Gain From Going To Prison:

Here are 8 benefits Jussie Smollett can benefit from serving time in prison.

  1. Victims & Ripple Effects:
    Many people do not come to understand until prison how their conduct created victims or caused other ripple effects in the community beyond their own harm. Acknowledging direct and indirect victims and beginning to take action to show remorse or make amends can be very healing. People in prison can finally stop obsessing about all the self-inflicted wounds and the personal losses of licenses, jobs, assets and reputation.
  2. Perspective:
    It sometimes takes a challenge like a prison sentence to regain perspective or get grounded. Without the hustle and bustle of the “free” world, people in prison come to realize what life is really about and what really matters. Prison gives people the chance to recalibrate, reset their values, and learn from the struggles of other people they meet inside. They realize how much worse life could be when they get outside themselves and learn about other people’s journeys. People in prison often become grateful for their support network rather than taking it for granted. These experiences can be life-changing. The rumor is that Smollett did what he did because he wanted more publicity and a bigger salary. Without commenting on whether that is true or not, the experience in prison will give him time to put everything into context and perspective if he so chooses.
  3. New Network:
    Most people find that the network they relied upon before their criminal case largely disappears. When it is all said and done, the people they once expected to be there are gone. Remarkably, however, people they never expected come to play an important role in their lives during the criminal justice process and prison term. If they allow it and are open to the possibilities, a new, solid network of friends and family begins to form. Even people they meet in prison become part of their new network for the future. No doubt, Jussie Smollett has experienced people turning their backs on him during this difficult time. He can also experience the thrill of finding out who are his ride or die friends and family, people he can count on in good times and bad
  4. Address Substance Abuse:
    Forced abstinence is one thing. There are also several drug education programs available to people in prison to help them deal with addiction and substance abuse. Some basic drug education is often required of all inmates. The two in-depth substance abuse programs in federal prison are the non-residential and the residential drug abuse programs, the latter better known as RDAP. States have their own versions of non-residential and residential intense substance abuse programs. People can take advantage of the prison journey to face any addiction issues from their past and set themselves up for the next phase of life. We do not know whether this is a specific issue for Smollett. Even if it is not a direct personal struggle, taking drug education classes in prison helps empathize with others who struggle with substance abuse and addiction.
  5. Grit & Resilience:
    Landing in prison is one of the most brutal punches people can take. But taking the punch, learning the lessons, and standing strong in the aftermath is nothing short of an accomplishment. The grit and resilience that come from getting through the journey with dignity, strength, and goals for the future are priceless. Those characteristics will be invaluable after the prison journey to take on whatever comes next. It seems that Jussie’s career has taken a beating from his journey through the criminal justice system. He will need grit and resilience to face what comes next and to change the narrative.
  6. Letting Go:
    One of the biggest frustrations of being in prison is the lack of control. From their daily schedule to the clothes to wear, when to get up, or the decisions family members make while away, all of that is dictated by others. Accepting things beyond our control can be excruciating. Yet it is the hallmark of being in prison that you have absolutely no control over anything. Only acceptance and learning to let go of things beyond our reach or control will mitigate the pain. Together with letting go, taking control of what is in your power is crucial for success. Your daily habits, exercise routines, eating choices, reading choices, spirituality, keeping up correspondence with people on the outside, and deciding who to spend time with while inside–those are all things over which a person in prison has some control or influence. Making good decisions on the things within your control is a great way to benefit while serving time.
  7. Health & Fitness:
    The truth is that life can get so busy and complicated that we allow our health and fitness needs to fall by the wayside. There is never enough time, and this applies to musicians, actors, celebrities living a hectic life. For working people, parents, celebrities, and others, the logistics of life, getting to the gym, the park, or working out at home are not easy. The phone is constantly ringing. Therefore, the time away from all the daily demands can be a blessing in disguise to get our minds and bodies in better shape. Most prisons and prison camps have a gym, weights, stationary bikes, etc. There is always the track. Smollett may even find fitness classes, yoga classes, Pilates, where he can connect with others. The opportunity to focus on health and fitness will be there for anyone wanting to focus on it while serving time. 
  8. Time To Read Again:
    At some point during their prison journey, most people rediscover the joy and benefits of reading books. They discover new authors, new passions, and many also begin to write. People write blogs, book outlines, novels, diaries, and business plans from prison. For a creative person like Jussie, this can also be a time of renewed creativity, allowing him to catch up on reading, writing, etc. That would be another way to allow the downtime to benefit him instead of him just serving time. Many people report reading at a pace of one book a day at various points during their time in prison, including books that changed their lives.

For more information about the federal Residential Drug Abuse Program, click on the video link below:

Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP).


We do not know for sure whether Jussie Smollett will receive a prison term when he is sentenced. And discussing these potential benefits does not diminish the fact that doing time in prison is tough, even miserable at times. Beyond the person actually serving time, the situation impacts their family and friends. Once it becomes inevitable that a prison term is in the offing, preparing to make the experience as beneficial as possible is the next best option.

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Justin Paperny