Updated 06/22/15 – 5:14 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. returned to his home in Washington, D.C., on Monday, after spending 17 months in federal prison, and another three months in a Baltimore halfway house.
Wearing a tan suit, and an electronic monitoring device, Jackson said his time behind bars was “extraordinary,” because it gave him the opportunity to see that his experience was no different from those of millions of others in prison.
“I wouldn’t wish this experience on anyone; but if there’s a God above — and I believe that there is – the possibility of a new life, and the possibility of being able to look circumspectly and reflectively on one’s life, the experience provides that,” he said. “There’s a silence. There are no cell phones. There’s no constant scheduling, and people calling, and moving from Point A to Point B, and there’s nowhere to go. There’s routine.”
After showing off his electronic monitoring device — which he was wearing over a pair of white socks he wore with his black shoes — Jackson said prison changed his perspective.
“The things that suddenly seemed important to you before you lost your freedom are suddenly unimportant; like do I care about black or white socks? I don’t care. Do I care that my suit has been eaten across the back by moths? I don’t care,” he said.
Jackson said he will be on home confinement until late September, and then his wife, Sandi, will report to prison in late October, to begin her one one-year prison sentence for tax evasion.
“As all of you know, this is the midpoint of an extraordinary journey for my family. My body is slowly being released from the Bureau of Prisons. I’ve experienced and I’ve accepted the consequences of my behavior, my poor judgement, and my actions. My heart has always remained with my family,” he said.
Jackson must remain at his home in D.C. for at least eight days, so his electronic monitoring equipment can be tested and calibrated. After that, he must submit a daily schedule to the Bureau of Prisons for approval, including the route he’ll take if he leaves the home for any reason, even just to go to the store for milk.
Jackson said he is working on a memoir, but he said he also wants to share the stories of men and women he met while in prison, and at the halfway house in Baltimore.
“I’ve experienced some things on this journey for which I will write about, and dedicate the rest of my life to,” he said. “The crippling effects of poverty, and lack of education, and circular reasoning are at the heart of recidivism and the limited life options of the men and women that I met along this journey.”
“They, like me, are in some form of shame, some form of blame, someone else to complain, some more explaining, and guilt; just a trap that seemingly can never be escaped from,” he added. “I gained strength every day. Right when I thought my story was the worst possible story that landed me in a federal prison, I would hear someone else’s story which was even worse than my story; someone elses’s circumstances which would be even worse than my circumstances.”