By Hudson Crozier
What happened: Jacob Chansley, the “QAnon Shaman” who was sentenced to 41 months in prison for his role in the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot, has been transferred from federal prison to a halfway house. He is scheduled to walk free from that facility in May.
How we got here: Police verbally allowed Chansley and others inside the Capitol on January 6, escorting him throughout the building while he peacefully protested. After being arrested and held in solitary confinement for months, where he claimed to have suffered starvation and depression, he pleaded guilty to a nonviolent felony and remained in solitary confinement. His lawyer now says he predicted that the Bureau of Prisons would release Chansley early with good behavior, and he was right.
Why it matters: Federal prosecutors and judges dramatized Chansley’s actions as “domestic terrorism,” calling him the “epitome of the riot” and fearing that he would “disrupt the United States government or harm members of Congress” if released. The Bureau of Prisons’ decision, which Chansley’s lawyer acknowledges as typical, highlights the unusually aggressive standards levied against January 6 defendants in court.
There are many others: The Biden administration has arrested over a thousand of its political opponents for the Capitol “insurrection,” pushing pretrial detainment and yearslong sentences for defendants with nonviolent charges. Judges have informed the DOJ that its numerous cases are overwhelming the system and making it nearly impossible to give defendants a swift trial as required by the Constitution. Thanks to more funding from Congress in December, however, the department says it may charge up to 1,000 more Donald Trump supporters present on January 6 in the coming months.