Jesse Jackson Jr. leaves prison for halfway house: 'He'll do well'

Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. left an Alabama prison early Thursday after serving a year and a half for illegally spending $750,000 in campaign funds on furs, vacations and other luxury items.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. said the family was "ebullient" as they greeted the younger Jackson on his release.

"We were extremely sad when he had to go away, and there's a great joy with reunion," Jackson said. "And he's strong, and he'll do well."

The father declined to specify their destination. Prison officials also declined to say where the ex-congressman would serve out the remainder of his 2 1/2-year term, though a friend said Jackson Jr. would be reporting to a halfway house in Washington, D.C.

Federeal Bureau of Prisons spokesman Edmond Ross said Jackson Jr.'s destination would remain private in the short run.

“We don’t, for safety, security and privacy reasons, divulge — when an inmate is not in a facility — where they are,” Ross said.

He would only say that Jackson Jr. was bound for an unspecified halfway house and that at some point it is expected he will transition into home confinement. That could be quick.

There have been a number of recent cases in which an individual entered a halfway house and, later the same day, was sent into home confinement, Ross said.

“Quite frankly, they are already in their community at that point anyway, their sentence is almost over and (home confinement) is that last step before their release into the community,” he said.

Ross said entering home confinement does not shorten a sentence. Jackson Jr. must serve his time until Sept. 20, records show.

Former Rep. Patrick Kennedy, who visited Jackson Jr. on Monday, said the ex-congressman would serve out the remainder of his sentence in a Washington, D.C., halfway house. Jackson must also spend three years on supervised release and complete 500 hours of community service.

Jackson Jr., a Democrat from Chicago's South Side, was sentenced to 30 months in prison in 2013 after using about $750,000 in campaign cash on luxury goods, household items, vacations, celebrity memorabilia and other items. He spent his 50th birthday March 11 in the prison camp on Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.

Sandi Jackson, a former Chicago alderman, is to begin a one-year prison term a month after her husband's release in September as punishment for her role in the crime spree.

A judge staggered the couple's sentences because of their children.

A prisoner is expected to be employed within 15 calendar days of arriving at a 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, they said.

Prisoners must sign out for approved activities such as looking for a job, working or attending counseling, officials said.

Jackson Jr. served in Congress from 1995 to 2012, when he quit after a monthslong leave of absence for treatment of bipolar disorder.

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.

Associated Press contributed

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