Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.: It's Been “Extraordinary Journey”

Chicago Democrat served time after pleading guilty to charges he illegally spent $750,000 in campaign funds on items like furs and vacations

Former Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. walked out of a Montgomery, Alabama prison Thursday en route to a halfway house.

Jackson Jr. was accompanied by his father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, his mother, his wife, former Chicago Ald. Sandi Jackson, and their children. 

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Jackson Jr. began serving a 2 1/2-year sentence in 2013 after pleading guilty to charges he illegally spent $750,000 in campaign funds on items like furs and vacations.

When asked how he was feeling, Jackson Jr. replied he feels "great" and that he was happy to be with his wife and children.

"It's been an extraordinary journey," Jackson said. " I've made mistakes. And I'm prayerful and hopeful that we're a country of second chances.  That the American people and the people of the City of Chicago will consider me for a second chance."

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"But a halfway house means he's half way [home]," said Jackson. "I won't be satisfied until he's totally free."

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A friend of Jackson Jr.'s, former Rep. Patrick Kennedy, said this week the 50-year-old Chicago Democrat would serve the remainder of his sentence at a halfway house. Officials and family members have declined to identify the name or location of that facility, but an NBC Chicago source said it is in the Washington, D.C.-Baltimore area.

Jackson Jr. was sentenced as part of a plea deal with federal investigators. He took a medical leave of absence from the House of Representatives during the summer of 2012 and initially checked into an Arizona substance abuse clinic before spending three months at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where he was diagnosed with bipolar depression.

He resigned from the House of Representatives in Nov. 2012 after winning re-election while undergoing treatment.

Sandi Jackson must serve a related, yearlong term for filing false tax returns after her husband completes his sentence. (function() { function async_load_poll() { var exscript_poll_script = document.createElement("script"), head = document.getElementsByTagName("head")[0]; exscript_poll_script.type = "text/javascript"; exscript_poll_script.src = ""; head.appendChild(exscript_poll_script); } if (window.attachEvent) { window.attachEvent("onload", async_load_poll); } else { window.addEventListener("load", async_load_poll, false); }})();

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