Kennedy: Jesse Jackson Jr. Set to Leave Prison for Halfway Thursday - NBC Chicago
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Kennedy: Jesse Jackson Jr. Set to Leave Prison for Halfway Thursday



    JJJr Prison Release Set for Thursday

    Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy says Jackson feels he's served his time and is excited about what lies ahead. NBC Chicago's Dick Johnson reports. (Published Wednesday, March 25, 2015)

    Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. will be released from a federal prison on Thursday and will serve out the remainder of his term in a Washington, D.C., halfway house, former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy told The Associated Press after visiting Jackson behind bars.

    Kennedy, the son of late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, said he spoke with Jackson at the minimum security federal prison camp in Montgomery, Alabama, where Jackson has been serving a 2 ½-year sentence after pleading guilty to illegally spending $750,000 in campaign funds on personal items. Jackson is the son of civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

    Jackson began the sentence on Nov. 1, 2013. The Bureau of Prisons lists his release date as Sept. 20, 2015.

    Jackson's wife was given a yearlong sentence for filing false tax returns related to her husband's spending.

    Kennedy said he was in the area giving a speech on children's mental health and decided to visit Jackson on Monday.

    "You can imagine my surprise when I'm there, and I'm talking to him, and he says, 'I'm leaving Thursday morning,'" Kennedy said.

    He said Jackson, 50, told him he would be picked up from prison by his wife, Sandra; his two children; his father and his mother, Jacqueline Jackson. His family will then take him to the halfway house.

    "He said he'd have to report with his probation officer and he'd have to get some kind of job and start to put his life back together," Kennedy said.

    Kennedy said he had not seen Jackson since August 2012, when he visited him at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota after Jackson took a leave from Congress and checked himself in for bipolar disorder. Kennedy has been an outspoken advocate on mental health issues. The two men served as Democrats in Congress together.

    Bureau of Prisons spokesman Edmond Ross said he could not confirm that Jackson would be released to a halfway house, saying the bureau does not consider such plans public information.

    The Rev. Jesse Jackson directed inquiries to the Bureau of Prisons. He confirmed that Kennedy had met with his son. Messages left for attorneys for Jackson Jr. were not immediately returned.

    Kennedy said Jackson's mental health is much better than the last time he saw him at the Mayo Clinic. Kennedy said Jackson had even put a positive spin on his time in prison, saying it had allowed him to "unplug" from the world.

    "He's a lot more at ease with his role and responsibility with what got him into jail," Kennedy said.

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