The so-called ‘QAnon Shaman’ who pleaded guilty to storming the US Capitol on January 6 has been released from prison to a halfway house 14 months early, in an apparent reduction for good behavior.
Jacob Chansley, 35, pleaded guilty in September 2021 to civil disorder and violent entry to the Capitol, among other charges, and was later sentenced to 41 months in federal prison.
As of Thursday, Bureau of Prison (BOP) records showed, and his former attorney confirmed in a statement to DailyMail.com, that Chansley was in a Phoenix-area halfway house after serving just under 27 months in prison total.
Chansley’s release comes weeks after his former attorney demanded he be freed in light of new video from the Capitol riot, but the reason for his transfer to the halfway house was unclear, and the BOP did not immediately return a request for comment.
A former federal prosecutor unconnected with the case said it was doubtful public pressure played a role, noting the transfer appears ‘kind of routine’ under BOP guidelines for good-behavior sentence reductions and re-entry programs.
Jacob Chansley has been freed from federal prison early and released to a halfway house
Chansley is seen being followed through the Capitol by a police officer on January 6, 2021
Federal inmates can receive a 15 percent reduction in their prison sentence for good behavior behind bars, and can also serve the final 12 months of their sentences in halfway houses at the discretion of the Bureau of Prisons.
In a statement to DailyMail.com, Albert S. Watkins, the attorney who handled Chansley’s plea and sentencing, applauded his transfer to a halfway house.
‘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,’ said Watkins.
‘I applaud the decision of the US Bureau of Prison in this regard,’ added Watkins.
Bureau of Prison records confirmed that Chansley is in the custody of the Residential Reentry Management field office in Phoenix, which contracts with halfway houses to help inmates prepare to reenter society.
Watkins declined to comment on the reason for Chansley’s early release, saying: ‘This was a decision of the US Bureau of Prisons. I cannot speak for the US Bureau of Prisons.’
In recent weeks, prominent figures including billionaire Elon Musk had called for Chansley’s release, citing new footage that appeared to show him being ‘escorted’ by cops inside the Capitol during the riot.
However, former federal prosecutor Neama Ramani, the president of West Coast Trial Lawyers, told DailyMail.com that it was unlikely the intense scrutiny on Chansley’s case had any impact on his early release.
‘I don’t think it has anything to do with media [or] public pressure,’ said Ramani, who is not connected with the case.
He noted that release of inmates to halfway houses for the final 12 months of their sentences was ‘kind of routine for the Bureau of Prisons,’ particularly for inmates without a lengthy criminal history.
‘Despite the violent nature of the Capitol riots, most of the rioters had little to no criminal history,’ said Ramani.
Tucker Carlson released footage from inside the Capitol on January 6, including clips showing the ‘QAnon Shaman’, Jacob Chansley (above), being apparently ‘escorted’ in the building
Albert Watkins (right) represented Jacob Chansley in court. Chansley pled guilty, Watkins said, without knowing about the footage showing him inside the Capitol
Earlier this month, Watkins had argued that Chansley should be freed after Fox News host Tucker Carlson aired previously unseen footage from the riot.
Carlson used his Fox News show to broadcast clips showing Chansley inside the US Capitol.
Chansley appears to be escorted inside the building by Capitol Police officers, while other officers allow the chest-baring, horn-wearing Trump supporter to pass.
On Carlson’s broadcast, Chansley’s former lawyer said he had not been shown the new footage, which the conservative news anchor said was ‘clearly exculpatory’.
Carlson used the footage to argue that the rioters were ‘sightseers’, and ‘mostly peaceful’.
However, other evidence omitted by Carlson shows that Chansley entered the Capitol without permission, was repeatedly asked to leave the building, and was not accompanied by cops at all times.
For instance, a statement signed by signed by Chansley and his attorney contradicts the suggestion that he was ‘escorted’ by cops throughout the riot.
The statement admits that Chansley entered the Capitol through a broken door as part of a crowd that ‘was not lawfully authorized to enter or remain in the building’ and that he was one of the first 30 rioters inside.
It also notes that although officers asked Chansley and others multiple times to leave the Capitol, he did not comply and actively urged on his fellow rioters.
The statement describes Chansley’s interactions with officers during the breach, but also points out that he ‘entered the Gallery of the Senate alone.’
Watkins has previously said that his former client disavows the ‘QAnon’ conspiracy theory, and prefers to be known simply as ‘the Shaman’.