Duke Cunningham released to halfway house
Dec. 12, 2012
SAN DIEGO — Former Republican Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, who has been in federal prison since admitting to taking bribes, has been transferred to a halfway house in New Orleans for the final few months of his prison term.
Cunningham, 71, was transferred from the federal prison in Tucson, Ariz., on Dec. 5, according to Edmond Ross, a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.
Cunningham, who was from Rancho Santa Fe, was sentenced in 2006 to eight years and four months in prison, and has spent the majority of his term at the Tucson prison.
He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud and tax evasion in 2005. He admitted taking more than $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractors, in return for using his congressional power to steer federal contracts to their companies.
Cunningham is scheduled to be released entirely from federal custody in June. His transfer to a halfway house is common for federal inmates who are close to their release date, Ross said.
“It’s meant to serve as a bridge between the individual being in prison and transitioning back into the community,” he said.
Halfway houses generally have much greater liberty for inmates than prisons. No walls or fences confine inmates, and they are able to go out into the community during the day, with permission of the staff, to seek work, go to counseling or other approved activities.
Ross said inmates are generally not accompanied when they go out into the community but are monitored by staff required to be accountable for all of the time they spend away from the facility.
There are curfews, rules and work requirements while staying at the halfway house. Cunningham could stay there up until his release date in June, or perhaps be released earlier and put on home detention.
In a letter in May to U.S. District Judge Larry A. Burns, who sentenced the former congressman, Cunningham said he planned to live in a remote cabin in Arkansas when he is free. He asked the judge from San Diego to restore his rights to carry a gun so he cold hunt, but Burns said he could not do that.
His plan to live in Arkansas near his mother and brother could explain why he was assigned to a halfway home in New Orleans, Ross said. Typically the bureau tries to place inmates close to where they will live after their release.