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Once turned away, Jesse Jackson Jr. finally in prison

Jesse Jackson Jr. leaves his sentencing hearing in Washington, August 14, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed
Jesse Jackson Jr. leaves his sentencing hearing in Washington, August 14, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed

By Mary Wisniewski

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Former U.S. Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. began his first day of a 30-month sentence in a North Carolina federal prison on Tuesday, a day after he had attempted to report early and was turned away.

The son of civil rights leader Reverend Jesse Jackson pleaded guilty to charges of misusing campaign funds in February and was due to report to prison no earlier than Friday, November 1, according to a judge's order.

Instead, Jackson reported to a federal prison in Butner, North Carolina, on Monday, only to be turned away two hours later because of what prison officials called an administrative "snafu," according to C.K. Hoffler, an attorney for Jackson.

"The reason he wanted to report early was to get this behind him," said Hoffler, who accompanied Jackson to the prison. "He wanted to pay his debt to society."

After Jackson was turned away, Hoffler picked him up and they waited for further instructions from authorities before returning Tuesday morning, Hoffler said.

U.S. Bureau of Prisons spokesman Chris Burke confirmed Jackson was in custody at Butner as of 11 a.m. EDT on Tuesday.

"I don't have any details," Burke said. "In general terms, when an inmate self-surrenders, it's important that the inmate and our agency are in compliance with the judge's order."

It was unclear why Jackson was admitted to the prison on Tuesday when the judge's order said he should report no earlier than November 1.

Jackson pleaded guilty in February to misusing about $750,000 in campaign funds on such luxuries as fur capes, celebrity memorabilia, mounted elk heads and a Rolex watch.

When he reported to prison on Monday, "Congressman Jackson apologized again and expressed sincere regret for causing so much pain and sadness to his family, his constituents and his friends," according to a statement released by his family on Monday.

His wife, Sandi, a former Chicago city council member, was sentenced to one year for falsifying tax returns that failed to report the campaign money as income. The judge ordered Sandi Jackson to report to prison 30 days after Jackson Jr. is released to reduce the impact on their two children.

Jackson Jr. served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 until he resigned after re-election last year, citing health reasons.

He disappeared from public view in the summer of 2012 and speculation swirled for weeks about his condition. He eventually was treated for bipolar disorder.

(Additional reporting by David Beasley; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Ken Wills)

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