Jacob Chansley, better known as the QAnon Shaman, who entered the Capitol on January 6, 2021, wearing patriot-themed face paint and horns but no shirt, has been released from prison early.
As of Thursday, reports from the Bureau of Prisons indicate that Chansley, 35, has been moved from federal prison to a halfway house in Phoenix, Arizona. In September 2021, Chansley pled guilty to civil disorder and violent entry to the Capitol. He and his attorney even signed a statement claiming that he entered the building through a broken door, that he "was not lawfully authorized to enter or remain in the building," and that he "entered the Gallery of the Senate alone."
However, Republican Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy recently released tens of thousands of hours of unedited footage of the events of January 6 to Fox News host Tucker Carlson. In turn, Carlson aired just a brief portion of that footage a few weeks ago. That footage contradicted the claim that Chansley violently entered the Capitol and that he entered the gallery alone. Rather, Capitol police appeared to escort the unarmed Chansley throughout his time in the Capitol. When Chansley eventually entered the Gallery of the Senate, he prayed for the police who "allowed" them into "this building."
Now, just weeks after that footage was released to the public through Tucker Carlson's program, Chansley has been released from federal prison after serving 27 months in prison, 11 of them in solitary confinement. His attorney, Albert S. Watkins, praised the decision to release Chansley, who had been sentenced to serve three and a half years behind bars.
"After serving eleven months in solitary prior to his sentence being imposed, and only 16 months of his sentence thereafter, it is appropriate this gentle and intelligent young man be permitted to move forward with the next stage of what undoubtedly will be a law abiding and enriching life," Watkins said in a statement.
Though the announcement of Chansley's release to a halfway house came just weeks after Carlson aired what he described as "clearly exculpatory" footage of Chansley in the Capitol, others claim that the timing is merely coincidental.
"I don't think it has anything to do with media [or] public pressure," said former federal prosecutor Neama Ramani, who is not affiliated with the case. "Despite the violent nature of the Capitol riots, most of the rioters had little to no criminal history."
According to the Daily Mail, federal inmates may be given a 15% reduction in their sentences at the discretion of the BOP. They can also be transferred to a halfway house for the final 12 months of their sentence. The BOP did not respond to requests for comment from several outlets.
Chansley, who is from Arizona, is scheduled to be released from the halfway house on May 25.
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