If former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is ordered to spend time behind bars, he would like to go to either the federal prison camp in Montgomery, Ala., or the low-security portion of the federal correctional institution in Butner, N.C., one of his lawyers said Monday.
The Butner Federal Correctional Complex already has at least two well-known inmates — former Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge and former New York financier Bernard Madoff.
Jackson, 48, will be sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for misspending about $750,000 from his campaign treasury.
While the sentencing judge will have the option to suggest where Jackson should serve any prison term, it's up to the Bureau of Prisons to decide where felons are incarcerated.
Ed Ross, a spokesman for the bureau, said it considers a number of factors when placing inmates, including criminal history, medical needs and sentencing recommendations. Additionally, the bureau tries to place inmates within 500 miles of home.
In the request, which was filed with the court Monday, defense lawyer William Drake said the facility in Alabama — about 700 miles from Washington — is the closest federal prison camp to the nation's capital and would "allow Mr. Jackson to maintain contact with his wife and children during incarceration." The Jacksons have homes in Washington and Chicago.
In making the North Carolina facility Jackson's second choice, the lawyer said he "has significant ties to the area, which he believes will aid his rehabilitation during any term of incarceration."
Jackson graduated from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University in Greensboro. The prison in North Carolina is within 500 miles of Washington.
Both facilities are among the best in the prison system, said Alan Ellis, a defense attorney who specializes in federal sentencing. Ellis ranks the Montgomery prison, a minimum-security facility located on Maxwell Air Force Base, among the top 10 in the nation.
"Staff is good there," he said. "You keep your mind occupied, you're working on the base."
Butner is "the crown jewel of the prison system" because it has a number of different facilities and a medical center that draws from the nearby Research Triangle area of Durham, Raleigh and Chapel Hill, Ellis said.
"It's like a college campus," Ellis said, adding that the buildings are "all named after (Atlantic Coast Conference) schools."
Butner is home to a low-security facility, two medium-security facilities and the medical center. Former Chicago cop Burge, convicted of lying about torturing confessions out of suspects, is in the prison's low-security area. Convicted financier Madoff is in Butner's medium-security facility, records show.
Jackson's lawyers have said he has severe depression and bipolar disorder and have argued that he could not get suitable care behind bars.
Of the two options presented by Jackson's lawyers, Ellis said Butner seemed like the best fit.
"Butner has these various levels, and it will probably be more appropriate to his mental health and medical needs," Ellis said.
Prosecutors want Jackson to serve four years in prison and his wife, former Chicago Ald. Sandi Jackson, to serve 18 months. Sandi, 49, will be sentenced the same day for failing to report about $600,000 in income. Both resigned from office before pleading guilty in February.
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