After long goodbye, Jesse Jackson Jr. in prison in North Carolina
BY LYNN SWEET Washington Bureau Chief October 29, 2013 10:12PM
Jesse Jackson Jr.
Updated: December 1, 2013 8:23AM
WASHINGTON — Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. spent his first night Tuesday at a minimum security prison in North Carolina after saying goodbye to family and friends in advance of a 30-month sentence for stealing from his political funds.
“I know there has been a lot of fanfare, commotion, about his going in there,” one of his brothers, Jonathan, told me Tuesday. “I am glad it has been resolved. I know he has been a little anxious about the date of his intended incarceration and was anxious to get it started.”
Jackson was taken into custody at the Butner Federal Correctional Facility complex on Tuesday morning after making a failed try on Monday afternoon. He is now Inmate No. 32451-016, living in a “camp” with no perimeter fences and barracks-style housing. There are no cells at the “camp,” with only 332 inmates as of last Thursday.
On Sunday, Tricia “CK” Hoffler, an Atlanta attorney, drove Jackson from his Washington home to the prison, about 30 miles from Raleigh, after he said goodbye to Sandi and their two children.
On Monday, Hoffler left him at the prison to begin the admitting process. Hoffler’s publicist then issued a press release about Jackson reporting to Butner to begin his sentence. Members of the Jackson family, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Jonathan, were told he was at the prison. That was true — but only for a few hours.
A short time after dropping Jackson at Butner, Hoffler got “a call that I needed to come back,” she said at a Tuesday press conference in Atlanta.
“We thought he was accepted,” Hoffler said. But due to what she called an “administrative snafu,” the prison would not admit him. She declined to elaborate on what the “snafu” was.
“It was our understanding he could report early,” she said.
Rev. Jackson and Jonathan told me they were never given an update. The publicist never announced the situation had significantly changed.
Hoffler picked Jackson up at Butner and took him to a hotel. Jackson did not go out to dinner, she said.
By early Tuesday morning the administrative issues were resolved — and Jackson was taken into custody.
Court records stated Jackson was to surrender no earlier than Friday, and never included the exact day Jackson was supposed to start serving his sentence. Until last Friday, there was a small possibility Jackson might have been in court here on Nov. 1 to deal with issues related to the $750,000 restitution he has to make.
Frank Watkins, who has known Jackson since he was a child and who served as his congressional spokesman, told me he took Jackson out to dinner on Saturday night, at a buffet in suburban Alexandria.
“I know he got a notice [prison officials] were expecting him on the 6th,” Watkins said. “He knew he was going to federal prison, and he was prepared as anyone can be.”
Jackson’s chaotic entry into prison brings to an end, for now, a long-running public drama — from disappearing mid-2012, to his hospitalization for a bipolar disorder, to Jackson and his wife Sandi pleading guilty to siphoning some $750,000 from their political warchests in February to pay for lavish purchases.
Once it was clear there would be no Friday court date, Jackson wanted to start his sentence. The countdown was grueling. “He was very eager to repay his debt,” Hoffler said.
Jonathan Jackson told me he said goodbye to his brother last week, at his South Side home in Chicago. “I stopped by his house and gave him a hug and a kiss.”