Updated 10/04/2010 06:07 PM
Jim Black released early from prison
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CHARLOTTE -- Former North Carolina House Speaker Jim Black returned to Mecklenburg County on Monday after about about three years behind bars and will complete the remainder of his sentence in a halfway house or under home confinement.
Welcome home signs and balloons decorated the Black residence in Matthews, North Carolina.
Yellow bows also lined the mailboxes on the street, as neighbors joined in on the homecoming party. This celebration comes after the news that the once powerful Black is no longer behind bars.
It is six months until to end of his sentence, but Black has left the federal prison in Jesup, Georgia. His family told News 14 Carolina: "Glad to have him home. It's been hard, it's not been easy, but we are happy he's home"
Black's attorney said Black is just happy to be back close to home.
“I think it was very tough,” said attorney Whit Powell. “I think it would be tough for a young person to go through. Dr. Black is 74. His health has not been particularly good. His wife's has been extremely poor and it has been a very very difficult time.”
Black agrees. In a statement he said: “Being separated from my family, friends, and loved ones since 2007 has been difficult. My years in two different institutions have been a period of great personal growth and learning.”
Black was sentenced to serve five years for bribery and obstruction of justice charges. That time was reduced after he completed an alcohol treatment program in prison which made his new release date in early 2011. Powell says that means Monday's release makes sense.
“Well, he's really not serving less time than he is scheduled for or sentenced to,” said Powell. “It's just a policy of the Bureau of Prisons to release people six months prior to their official release dates. His release date, I think, is April 1 of 2011.”
Black went directly to a halfway house in Mecklenburg County. He will stay there until his release date, unless authorities decide he is eligible for home confinement to finish his sentence.