CHICAGO (CBS) — Former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. was released from a federal prison camp in Alabama early Thursday and arrived hours later at a Baltimore, Md. halfway house.
Jackson left the Montgomery Federal Prison Camp on Maxwell Air Force Base through a back gate around 5 a.m., avoiding the media. His father, Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., and his wife and children accompanied him on the 14-hour drive from Alabama to the Washington D.C. area.
Only by following the family’s white van from the prison were CBS 2 cameras able to see the former congressman after his release. Jackson gave a thumbs up from inside the van as his family made a pit stop in Georgia while driving to the D.C. area.
Family sources said his release papers strictly forbid contact with the media, so CBS 2 deliberately did not approach him when they made a stop on the long drive from Alabama to the nation’s capital.
Later, Jackson’s father said his son is doing well.
“He’s strong, he’s clear, and he’s humble,” the elder Jackson said. “I looked forward to the day, now that he is reunited with his family. I mean, we were very sad when he left, and overjoyed today.”
Although Jackson Jr.’s grandmother is hospitalized in Greenville, North Carolina, due to a serious illness, the rules of his release from prison forbid him from stopping to visit before he goes to the halfway house where he’ll spend at least three months.
Jackson Sr. said his son is remorseful, taking seriously repaying his debt to society, and looking forward to the next chapter in his life, which is finding a job. While at the halfway house, he is only allowed out to find a job, or to work.
Convicted of misusing $750,000 in campaign cash, Jackson Jr. began serving a 30-month prison sentence at a federal prison in Butner, North Carolina, in October 2013. Six months later, he was transferred to the Alabama prison camp, where he completed a substance abuse treatment program, reducing his sentence by six months. He also received credit for good conduct.
While there are many halfway houses in the D.C. area, CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports one of the halfway houses closest to Jackson’s home has said it will not admit him, due to all the media attention.
The former congressman will be eligible for home confinement after about three months in the halfway house, and should be released from federal custody by Sept. 20.
His wife, Sandi Jackson, is scheduled to begin serving a one-year prison sentence a month after he is released from custody. A federal judge agreed to stagger their sentences to minimize the impact on their children.
Jackson Jr. has pleaded guilty to misusing $750,000 in campaign funds to pay for his family’s lavish lifestyle. His wife, a former Chicago alderman, has admitted to filing six years of false federal income tax returns, failing to report about $600,000 in income.
According to court documents, the Jacksons made dozens of personal purchases using campaign funds, including: memorabilia autographed by Michael Jackson, Eddie Van Halen, and Bruce Lee; fur coats and capes; two stuffed and mounted elk heads; a $43,500 Rolex; vacations to Disney World and Martha’s Vineyard; various electronics; gym memberships; their children’s private school tuition; and more.