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Mar 26, 2015 9:52 PM

Jesse Jackson Jr. at halfway house after leaving prison

The Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. arrived at a Baltimore halfway house late Thursday, hours after leaving an Alabama federal prison where he was serving a sentence imposed after he pleaded guilty to spending $750,000 in campaign money on personal items.

Jackson arrived Thursday night with members of his family at the Volunteers of America halfway house, where he begins his transition back into society.

"I'm very very happy that I'm with my wife and children, I've missed them a very long time," Jackson said as he pushed through a group of reporters to enter the halfway house.

Earlier in the day, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, speaking by phone shortly after picking up his 50-year-old son, described his release from the minimum security federal prison camp at Maxwell Air Force Base as a "joyous reunion." He added that the younger Jackson was doing "very well." The civil rights leader was not with his son when he checked into the facility.

The halfway house has been in operation for more than 30 years in the same two-story brick facility in Baltimore, according to spokeswoman Danielle Milner.

The facility serves between 500 and 700 residents annually with housing, employment counseling and other transitional services. Some people are allowed to live in their own homes, but that's up to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, she said.

Jackson Sr. had said earlier Thursday that his son will be living at the halfway house for six months, but federal officials have not confirmed that.

"He is respecting the rules and the process," the Rev. Jackson said. "He is not asking for any special privileges."

Jackson Jr. said he didn't know what would happen once he has checked into Volunteers of America.

Jackson began his 2 -year prison sentence on Nov. 1, 2013, and his release date is Sept. 20, 2015. After that, Jackson must spend three years on supervised release under jurisdiction of the U.S. Probation Office and complete 500 hours of community service.

At some point, it will be his wife's turn to serve out her punishment on a related conviction.

Sandra Jackson, a former Chicago alderman, was sentenced to a year in prison for filing false joint federal income tax returns that knowingly understated the income the couple received. In a concession to the couple's two children, a judge allowed the Jacksons to stagger their sentences, with the husband going first.

Jackson served in Congress from 1995 until he resigned in November 2012. In June 2012, he took medical leave for treatment of bipolar disorder and other issues.

The Jacksons spent campaign money on fur capes, mounted elk heads, a $43,350, gold-plated men's Rolex watch and Bruce Lee memorabilia, as well as $9,587.64 on children's furniture, according to court filings.

Jackson's resignation ended a once-promising political career that was tarnished by unproven allegations that he was involved in discussions to raise campaign funds for imprisoned former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich in exchange for an appointment to President Barack Obama's vacated U.S. Senate seat. Jackson has denied the allegations.


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