U.S. Capitol rioter the 'QAnon Shaman' is released early from federal prison
Jacob Chansley, who received one of the longest sentences handed down to a U.S. Capitol rioter, has been released early from federal prison and sent to a reentry center.
Chansley, 35, was convicted of obstruction of an official proceeding in Nov. 2021 and sentenced to 41 months in prison. But prison records show that Chansley has been moved to a residential reentry management facility in Phoenix, where he is originally from, and is expected to be released on May 25.
Chansley received an early release, in part, because of his good behavior while in prison, says Albert Watkins, who represented Chansley through his plea and sentencing.
"Mr. Chansley can now move forward with his life. For that I applaud the BOP," Watkins told NPR in a statement.
The U.S. Bureau of Prisons permitted its existing protocols, some of which are nuanced, to appropriately permit the release of Mr. Chansley from prison, Watkins said.
Chansley, also known as QAnon Shaman, became a notorious face for the Jan. 6 attack after storming into the Capitol bare-chested in a fur headdress with horns. According to the Justice Department, Chansley was among the first 30 rioters to breach the government building.
Inside, he took pictures of himself on the dais of the Senate floor and sat in the seat Vice President Mike Pence had occupied an hour earlier, the Justice Department said. When a police officer asked him to leave, Chansley refused and called Pence a "traitor." He later left a note on the dais that read "It's Only A Matter of Time. Justice Is Coming!"
Chansley was arrested a few days later and indicted on six charges, two of which were felonies. He ultimately struck a deal with the government and pleaded guilty to a single count of obstruction of an official proceeding.
"Men of honor admit when they're wrong. Not just publicly but to themselves," Chansley told the court in Nov. 2021. "I was wrong for entering the Capitol. I have no excuse. No excuse whatsoever. The behavior is indefensible."
Chansley was a vocal believer of several conspiracy theories including QAnon, which claimed that there were nefarious Democratic actors involved in child-trafficking rings. A local media outlet, Arizona Central, described him as "a fixture at Arizona right-wing political rallies."
Before his activism, Chansley said he worked in a group home for troubled youths and studied religion, philosophy, psychology and ceramics at Glendale Community College, according to The Washington Post.
Navy Times said Chansley also served in the U.S. Navy in his late teens, between 2005 and 2007, as a supply clerk seaman apprentice. He earned several accolades during his service, including the National Defense Service Medal.
More than 1,000 people have been charged for the Capitol riot — which caused "the most wide-ranging investigation" in the history of the Justice Department. About $2.6 billion have been allocated to U.S. attorneys, in part to support the Jan. 6 prosecutions.
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