Transcript for Jesse L. Jackson and mother Jacqueline L. Jackson discuss his incarceration
The son of civil rights pioneers Jesse and Jacqueline Jackson was poised to continue his family's legacy of leadership as a Chicago congressman. But his life took a different turn in 2013 when he was sent to federal prison for campaign finance fraud. Now, congressman Jackson and his mother share how strength, hope, and faith got them through it all in the new book, "Loving you, thinking of you, don't forget to pray: Letters to my son in prison." Please welcome, Jacqueline and congressman Jesse L. Jackson Jr. Thank you for being here. As whoopi mentioned, congressman, you stepped down in 2012. You cited onloing health issues. You pled guilty and were sentenced to 30 months in prison for finance fraud. What were the emotions like? Did you feel a sense of shame at that time? Abby, I think next to burying a parent, next to burying a child, having to turn to your mother and tell her that you're going to prison has got to be close to the worst process possible. In the matter of Illinois, when I had campaigned for Barack Obama across the country in his first campaign, I thought I was a logical successor to the United States senate. Between 001 and 2013, the head of investigations was Robert Mueller. While I had done nothing wrong in the senate campaign, hi investigation continued into that which I had done wrong. And for over three years, the pressure of that investigation and not willing to tell my mother, because I thought I could beat it. Yeah. And then when I eventually had to tell her, I asked my father first. I said, dad, I gotta tell mama that I'm going to prison. I can't tell the country. I can't tell my children. I don't know how to confront it. When I event eventually told my mother, she said to me, surprisingly, I'm stronger than you think I am. And, she made a promise to me that if I went to prison, she would write me every single day. And that's what she did. I presented her that book and those letters as a self-published work. And, I didn't expect it to be picked up by skyhorse publishing. And they did. This was my way of saying thank you to my mother. Oh, boy. Oh, boy. It's so wonderful. It's so lovely. And before the sentencing, your mom wrote a letter to the judge which, in part, said this -- growing up in the shadow of his father, Jesse Jr. Has always tried desperately to live up to the expectations we have had for him. I think perhaps too hard. How hard was it to grow up in his shadow? Sunny, I never saw it as a shadow. I saw it as sunlight. I thought my father cast a tremendous amount of light on all of his children. My mother wrote that to judge Amy Berman Jackson. That's Paul manafort's judge. That's Roger stone's judge. And the lady who had given birth to me on March 11, 1965, was now pleading for my life before the judge. I never wanted to see the day that my mother would have to write that letter to a federal judge to plead for my life. Did you feel that you were too hard on him? No. First, I want to preface, let me thank all of you for this opportunity and I want to commend you on the work that you share with the American public. And my friends told me to tell you, thank you for giving them a voice. Thank you so much for having us. First, that letter consists of about seven or eight pages. Anyone in this particular circumstance wants to tell everything. So, I went to a friend, who is Dr. Lenore moreni who helped me to put in on the computer. I said, I want you the write all of this. Because I want her to read it. She said, Mrs. J., they're not going to read all of this. So you have to go and edit it. And I asked her to do it for me. She said no one is going to help you do this. It must be done on your own. So you see just a small sampling of my plea to her. My son had -- was guilty of a nonviolent crime. And I do feel that today, we need to seriously look at the prison industrial complex. And nonviolent offenses. When we think of crime, crime hurts and creates pain. But justice heals. And restores. And repairs. And there are many things that -- those who have been accused of nonviolent crimes can do in service of their community. Right. As opposed to spend the time languishing in a penal institution. You played a part in some of that service in helping your son. Those letters were a lifeline to you. You talked about dablly errands, family gossip, and bible passages. And I lost some friends because of that. The gospel part, how did that get you through? When in prison, particularly federal prison, every day at 4:00, there's a federal count. They count every inmate in the entire system. You have to be by your bed. The guards come by. They count you. The census is turned into the bureau of prisons. After 4:00 count, there's mail call. Yep. And the C.O. Would say mail call, mail call. All the inmates would come around him. They would say Jackson, Jackson, Jackson. Jackson, Jackson. I would watchmen by the dozens at the end of mail call. Their heads would drop. Tear up, that's right. Because they had been abandoned. When I say a lifeline, Abby, I mean my mother never abandoned me. She kept in touch with me through that process. There's some talk about bill Cosby being Dr. Huxtable. There's reality and unreality. People expect him to be a doctor. That's what they see. Listen this San extraordinary book. If you have someone who has been incarcerated, you want to get this. You don't want folks coming out not knowing what's going on in the world. This will snow you how to make it better. Thank you guys for coming. Members of the audience are lucky enough. You're getting a copy of their book, "Loving you, thinking of you,
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