When last seen in 2013, a disgraced Jesse Jackson Jr. pushed past a throng of media to the front of a waiting SUV, spoke to the crowd about believing in forgiveness and hopped into the vehicle that would lead to incarceration for misuse of campaign funds.
On Thursday, Jackson will be released from federal prison.
After serving 17 months of a 2 ½-year sentence, Jackson will exit a minimum security prison in Montgomery, Alabama, and be transported by family to a Washington, D.C. halfway house, where he could stay until September. He will be eligible for home confinement starting in June.
The son of civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson will be picked up by his father, mother Jacqueline, wife Sandi and two children, Jackson Jr. friend Patrick Kennedy told The Associated Press.
This fall was not projected for Jackson, who spent his 50th birthday in a prison camp on Maxwell Air Force Base on March 11. The Democratic representative from Chicago’s South Side was considered a political rising star, until rumors began to circulate about his involvement in conspiring for Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat. Ultimately, an investigation led to tax fraud and misuse of $750,000 in campaign cash on luxury goods, household items, vacations, celebrity memorabilia and other items.
In the scandal, his wife, Sandi, a former alderman, was also sentenced to a year in prison for her involvement in the crimes. In October, a month after Jackson is expected to be released from federal custody, she will begin her time. A judge, in a gesture to protect the Jacksons’ children, staggered the sentences so at least one parent could be with the kids as the other parent served his/her penance .
For Jesse Jackson Jr., who underwent drug counseling while incarcerated, he will live a structured life in a halfway house. He is expected to be employed within 15 calendar days of arriving at the halfway house, prison officials said. Alcohol and drug use is forbidden, on or off the premises, and prisoners usually pay about 25 percent of their income to cover the cost of their confinement.
Jackson will be required to sign out for approved activities such as looking for a job, working or attending counseling.
All this is a long way from the revered place he held in Chicago. He was a Congressman from 1995 to 2012. Early in his career, he showed the fire and gift of oratorical splendor of his father. But when things went awry, it all changed quickly. He took a leave of absence for some months to treat a bipolar disorder before the trial.
He began his sentence Oct. 29, 2013, at a federal prison in Butner, N.C., and in April 2014 he moved to the minimum security camp in Alabama. Officials said he completed a substance abuse treatment program, shaving three months off his term, and also is receiving good conduct credit, which works out to about 54 days a year.