Jesse Jackson’s half brother freed from life prison sentence

CHICAGO (AP) — An 80-year-old half-brother of the Rev. Jesse Jackson who was sentenced to life in prison more than 30 years ago after being convicted of hiring hit men has been released from prison, officials said.

Noah Robinson Jr. was ordered set free last month over the objections of prosecutors by a federal judge who cited Robinson’s age, risks posed in prison by COVID-19 and his deteriorating health, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

“Robinson was convicted of brutal crimes, but he is 80 years old and has now been in custody for almost 33 years,” U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer wrote. “That is a significant period for the purposes of punishment and general deterrence.”

Robinson was set free under the First Step Act, a bipartisan bill signed into law in 2018 by then-President Donald Trump that is intended to encourage inmates to participate in programs aimed at reducing recidivism, eases mandatory minimum sentence, and gives judges more discretion in sentencing.

Robinson, an Ivy League-educated, wealthy businessman, had been locked up since his arrest in 1989 on charges that he hired hit men from Chicago’s El Rukn street gang to kill a boyhood friend of his, Leroy “Hambone” Barber, after the two got into a fistfight in South Carolina, where they both grew up.

A woman who witnessed the killing was wounded in a later hit that Robinson ordered, and he ordered another hit that wasn’t carried out, prosecutors said. Robinson also was accused of helping El Rukn members connect with East Coast cocaine and heroin suppliers.

According to the order releasing Robinson, he plans to live in Chicago with his daughters, who have promised to take care of his medical and other needs.

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