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Ex-Congressman's prison mate talks life in prison

Published: Tuesday, May 13, 2014 11:12 p.m. CDT

CHICAGO – A letter written by an inmate who shared time with ex-Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. at a North Carolina federal prison said Jackson is doing a “fastidious job” scrubbing toilets, showers and sinks.

Jackson included a letter by former Pennsylvania attorney John Karoly with a one-page, hand-written letter to Chicago television station WMAQ, which reported it Monday.

“He’s doing a fastidious job – a toothbrush doing wonders on a clogged drain,” Karoly wrote in his eight-page letter, adding that Jackson appears to be dedicated to the work.

“I later learn the inmate considers this a part of his personal penance,” wrote Karoly, who is serving a six-year term for tax evasion and money laundering. “But no matter how hard he scrubs, he later tells me that it doesn’t wipe his slate clean. He has embarrassed himself, his family name, and all those who counted on him to be different. Like the rest of us, he yearns for the forgiveness that has eluded him.”

In his letter, Jackson mentions three inmates he shared time with in North Carolina. The letter included an affidavit in which Jackson gives permission to Karoly to release his statement.

In addition to describing Jackson’s life at the Federal Prison Camp at Butner, N.C., Karoly, said in the letter dated April 11th that Jackson believes President Barack Obama should pardon inmates who have served their sentences.

“In the single stroke of a pen, the President, on behalf of the American people, can convert the intangible myth of America’s forgiveness into what Jesse rightly insists is a matter of human entitlement,” Karoly wrote. “When you pay off your credit card debt in full, you no longer owe anything. The full utilization of the President’s power to forgive, may be the greatest legacy any President can leave behind.”

Jackson, who was moved last month to a minimum security prison camp at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, is serving a 2½-year sentence for misspending campaign money. He is scheduled to be released on Dec. 31, 2015, after which he must spend three years on supervised release and complete 500 hours of community service. He agreed to repay the $750,000 when he pleaded guilty.

His wife, Sandra Jackson, a former Chicago alderman, was sentenced to a year in prison for filing false joint federal income tax returns.

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Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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