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Jesse Jackson Jr. Could Be Out Of Federal Prison Much Sooner Than Expected

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Jay Levine Jay Levine
Jay Levine is the chief correspondent for CBS 2 Chicago. He joined...
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(CBS) – Former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. might be getting out of prison a lot sooner than originally thought, CBS 2 has learned.

Jackson has been transferred from the North Carolina prison camp where he’s spent the past five months to another federal facility in Alabama.

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports.

Montgomery Federal Prison camp is located at Maxwell Air Force Base, about 90 miles from Birmingham, Ala. It’s another “Club Fed”-like facility, like Butner, N.C., where Jackson’s been held for just over five months.

But Montgomery has one thing Butner does not: a residential drug and alcohol treatment program.

Jackson, CBS 2 has learned, requested the transfer to enroll in the special nine-month program. There was no announcement of the move, only a change to the Bureau of Prisons’ official inmate locator, which until Friday listed Jackson at Butner.

The former congressman has had issues with alcohol, but such a program could also lead to early release.

“Inmates know if they go through the program, whether they need it or not, that they’re going to get six months off,” says CBS 2 legal analyst Irv Miller. “Frankly, in many cases it is a con, because frankly many times people exaggerate the problem in order to get the time off, but there are a lot of people that do need the program.”

Jackson Jr. spent more than five months at Butner, a minimum-security prison camp with neither walls nor fences, and just beat the deadline to enter the new program.

You must apply with at least 24 months left to serve. Jackson’s 30-month term is due to end in April of 2016. But good behavior moves that up to December 2015. With six months off for the drug and alcohol program, it would become June 2015.

With the last six months usually served in a halfway house, Jackson Jr. could be released from prison at the end of this year — having served just over a year of his 30-month sentence in prison.

The move will make it more difficult for Jackson’s wife, Sandi, and two young children to visit. They’d been regular visitors at Butner, which is less than a day’s drive from their D.C. home.

It also raises questions about whether — unless she’s granted some kind of pardon or clemency – Jackson’s wife will have to start serving her one-year sentence sooner than expected.

Sources tell CBS 2 Jackson Jr. requested the transfer after a disagreement with prison officials and was put in solitary confinement. His family says it was the drug program — not disciplinary issues — that led to the transfer.

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