WASHINGTON -- Imprisoned former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s projected release date is now Sept. 20, 2015, more than three months earlier than listed previously, federal officials confirmed Monday.
In another development, Jackson has paid the $550,000 he owed the U.S. government over his misuse of campaign funds, according to a court filing.
There is no connection between Jackson's payment and his new projected release date, according to the Bureau of Prisons. "Financial obligations and release dates are unrelated," said prisons spokesman Chris Burke.
Jackson's projected release date from federal prison was Dec. 31, 2015. If the new release estimate holds, he will have served less than two years of the original 21/2-year term.
Jackson, 49, a Democrat from Chicago's South Side, is in a federal prison camp in Montgomery, Ala. He transferred there on April 4 from a federal prison in Butner, N.C., where he began his sentence last October.
Prisons spokesman Burke said that, generally speaking, officials have the authority to reduce a prison sentence by up to one year for an inmate who successfully completes an in-patient drug or alcohol rehabilitation program.
Burke, however, said he could not discuss whether a specific inmate, such as Jackson, had completed a rehab program.
Under federal law, the Bureau of Prisons is to expected provide residential substance-abuse treatment to inmates and make arrangements for the available aftercare, subject to the availability of funds.
The law provides an incentive for inmates who, in the judgment of the Bureau of Prisons' director, has successfully completed such a program.
The law says a prisoner convicted of a non-violent offense may have his or her sentence reduced, but for not more than a year, if the director makes that determination.
Another section of federal law says: "In designating the place of imprisonment or making (prison) transfers, there shall be no favoritism given to prisoners of high social or economic status."
Jackson's original projected release date at the end of 2015 had taken into account the "good conduct" reduction in his sentence.
Federal prisoners who behave while behind bars can see their terms reduced by up to 54 days a year, the Bureau of Prisons says. That's just short of eight weeks a year.
The reduction is forfeited if an inmate commits a serious infraction, prison officials say.
According to today's court filing, Jackson has satisfied the $550,000 balance of the judgment he owed the U.S. government after being slapped with a $750,000 money judgment forfeiture, a sum roughly equal to the money he took from his campaign treasury.
He spent the money on purchases including a Rolex watch, restaurant meals and bar tabs, vacations and two mounted elk heads.
He paid $200,000 before entering prison, and a recent court filing said he was refinancing a home to come up with the balance.
Today's court filing did not specify how he came up with the cash. The filing came from prosecutors and defense lawyers in his case.
Jackson's defense lawyers did not respond to a Tribune request for comment.
Jackson, the son of civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson, served in Congress from 1995 until he resigned in November 2012. He pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy count in 2013.
He quit Congress after a months-long leave of absence blamed on bipolar disorder and depression, and won re-election in November 2012 to a two-year term he never began. He was a patient in the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., on Election Day.
His wife, Sandi Jackson, a former Chicago alderman, is to begin a one-year prison term within a month after her husband's release from custody. She pleaded guilty to faiure to report to the IRS about $600,000 in income during the couple's years-long crime spree.
The sentencing judge staggered the couple's prison terms in light of their two young children.
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