Inside look into the federal prisons requested by Jesse Jr., Sandi Jackson

August 14, 2013

Felons may request prison assignments and judges may make recommendations, but it is the Bureau of Prisons that determines where individual convicts are put. There are no guarantees. It is based on several things, including security needs, medical treatment needs, family location and crowding conditions.

The disgraced congressman and his fallen city council wife are not violent offenders or escape risks, so they will not take up top security prison space normally reserved for hardened criminals-- nor will they be housed with them.

Those convicted of corruption and in white collar cases rarely are.

In Mr. Jackson's case, he has asked to do his time at one of two places: first, in North Carolina at the federal penitentiary in Butner: a low-security facility, sleek and modern, but still rung by razor wire. Among the notorious here: ex-Navy spy Jonathon Pollard, the former owner of the Buffalo Sabres hockey team, Bernie Madoff and even a crooked ex-congressman, Randy Duke Cunningham.

The second on Mr. Jackson's list is in Alabama, the federal prison camp in Birmingham. As with the Carolina facility, it is surrounded by open land and barbed wire. If Jackson were to come here he'd get this 57-page book of rules and regulations that are strictly-enforced, including a map of the ground to find his way around and a list of jobs available to him.

From kitchen work to the library, perhaps a job in the clothing room or as a sanitation worker, in maintenance, landscape or the laundry -- far from the Rolex world Mr. Jackson is leaving.

Approximate monthly earnings: starting wage $0.23 per hour. Top pay, $1.46 an hour.

Mrs. Jackson has asked to be housed at the Mariana federal prison in Florida's panhandle, 65 miles west of Tallahassee. While there is a medium security prison for men here, the former Chicago city council member would be on the minimum risk female farm.

Husbands and wives with young children are rarely sentenced to prison at the same time. In some cases, a spouse isn't even prosecuted if it would mean leaving children parentless.

In a substantial showing of mercy on Wednesday, the judge allowed the Jacksons to choose who would go away first. Mr. Jackson said he would surrender on November 1.

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