For the first time since Jesse Jackson Jr. was released from prison, the ex-congressman spoke publicly about his time behind bars and his highly-publicized divorce case.
“This is what I want to say to the people of the city of Chicago,” Jackson said. “I erred profoundly. I accepted responsibility for my behavior.”
After a court hearing Monday, Jackson Jr. addressed reporters, saying he is moving on but will never leave the experience of 24 months in the federal prison system behind.
“I can say that the best thing that ever happened to me was this experience,” he said. “Getting to meet these men and women and people from all walks of life who have so many different stories to tell that long for the idea of redemption.”
Jackson said he hopes to try to help others, like himself, who must rebuild their lives after time behind bars.
“I want to organize these 68 million people for the second chance that I believe the founding fathers of our country promised them under the constitution,” he said. “And I am going to put all my energy in that once this tragic episode of my person life has ended.”
That tragic episode, as he calls it, is his increasingly hostile divorce case with his estranged wife, former alderman Sandi Jackson.
Jackson is also facing new questions about more than $100,000 a year he receives in disability payments from the federal government.
“Yeah, I earned it,” he said. “It’s a very difficult process to get and you have to go through an annual renewal process. And I still meet with my professional counselors on a regular basis and have never stopped.”
But now, Jackson said his ex-wife wants her share of those payments through a second divorce proceeding underway in Washington D.C.
In the Chicago case, a judge on Monday entered an order that, for now, will keep former Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy from being called to testify in the case.
The decision follows a motion filed last month by the soon-to-be former Mrs. Jackson looking to quash subpoenas in the case. The subpoenas included ones for McCarthy, Chicago businessman Richard Simon, and former police officer James Love.
McCarthy’s lawyer had also reached a separate agreement with Jackson’s attorney to hold off on any appearance.
“I am suggesting [McCarthy] has absolutely no involvement in this divorce,” said McCarthy’s attorney Morgan Stogsdill. “We have said it 10 ways to Sunday. It’s still no involvement and the judge agreed with us.
But Jackson says what he is trying to do is spare his children the trauma of what could be a messy divorce.
“Bottom line, it’s what I don’t want to impact a 17-year-old and 13-year-old kid who deserve their chance,” Jackson Jr. said. “Their father is speaking for them, and that is what this case is about.”