By Zachary Stieber
The man known as the QAnon Shaman, who pleaded guilty to breaching the U.S. Capitol, has been released from prison early after Fox News aired footage of him being escorted by police officers inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Jacob Chansley, 35, was moved to a halfway house in Phoenix on March 28, a U.S. Bureau of Prisons spokesperson told The Epoch Times in an email. He had been serving a 41-month sentence, handed down in November 2021, in federal prison after pleading guilty to one count of obstructing an official proceeding.
The release comes after Fox News’ Tucker Carlson broadcast never-before-seen footage that showed U.S. Capitol Police officers walking around inside the Capitol with Chansley.
Chansley’s current and former lawyers are offering different views as to whether the footage played a role in his early release.
“Jake is out on schedule. I told him 16 months ago in our first conversation, it would be Feb. or Mar. 2023,” William Shipley, Chansley’s current lawyer, wrote on social media on March 30.
While Chansley was expecting to serve nearly his full sentence in prison, Shipley noted that federal inmates can get early release for good behavior and participation in various programs.
“I didn’t do anything extraordinary—this was always the schedule, I just understood it and could explain it to him,” Shipley said.
Albert Watkins, Chansley’s former lawyer, said he couldn’t comment about the early release.
“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 to news outlets. “I applaud the decision of the U.S. Bureau of Prison in this regard.”
The bureau said it couldn’t discuss a specific inmate’s release, but confirmed that inmates can earn time for good conduct.
Before the First Step Act, enacted by former President Donald Trump, federal inmates could earn up to 54 days of good conduct time for each year of their sentence served. Under the law, inmates can now earn up to 54 days of good conduct time for each year of their imposed sentence.
Shipley said in another post that the videos played on Fox “DID NOT play a role” in Chansley’s release.
The final months of the sentence were always going to be served at a halfway house, Shipley said. He also reiterated that his client received time off for completing bureau programs, in addition to the credit for being on good behavior.
“We have known the release date for a period of time, but kept it quiet so as to not have a crowd show up at either the BOP facility or the Halfway House,” Shipley said.
Motion to Vacate
Chansley was charged with multiple offenses after being photographed and videotaped inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. He pleaded guilty to a felony obstruction charge, in exchange for the other charges being dropped.
Watkins was replaced after the sentencing and Shipley recently told The Epoch Times that he intends to file a motion to vacate Chansley’s conviction.
The motion involves federal code that states a “prisoner in custody under sentence of a court established by Act of Congress claiming the right to be released upon the ground that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States.”
Shipley said in a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice that the newly disclosed video footage appears to be “materially exculpatory” to Chansley, whose lawyers have said he wasn’t given the footage.
Prosecutors were obligated to produce potentially exculpatory material to Chansley under the Brady v. Maryland U.S. Supreme Court decision, Shipley noted.
“Had the videos been properly disclosed as required by law,” he wrote, “they would certainly have been used as a counterpoint to the one-sided and factually inaccurate portrait of Mr. Chansley painted by the Government in its Sentencing Statement and arguments at the sentencing hearing.”
The Department of Justice didn’t respond for comment.
Gary Bai contributed to this report.