Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. called his lawyer Monday night to come back to prison and pick him up.
He said his early entry into the facility was being held up by an administrative issue, according to his attorney, CK Hoffler.
She told reporters Tuesday in Atlanta that Jackson, once a rising Democratic star and son of the famous civil rights figure, wasn't trying to duck the media by sneaking into prison early.
He just figured the sooner he started his 30-month sentence, the sooner he would be able to get back to his family, Hoffler said.
Confusion arose when Hoffler's office issued a news release on Monday evening saying Jackson had reported to prison in North Carolina. The statement included his prisoner number. But prison officials said Jackson didn't become a prisoner until Tuesday morning.
Hoffler said she and North Carolina Rep. G.K. Butterfield accompanied Jackson to the prison and were there when he reported. But they left, and Hoffler headed to the airport to catch a flight back to Atlanta. Jackson called her and told her he wouldn't be admitted that night.
She came back and took him to a hotel. They re-reported at 10 a.m.
A Federal Bureau of Prisons spokesman said Tuesday that Jackson, whose political career imploded over the use of campaign finances to support lavish personal spending, entered a federal prison camp in Butner.
The former Illinois congressman had been ordered to report to a federal prison camp or correctional institution no earlier than November 1.
Hoffler said his legal team communicated with the bureau of prisons to let officials know Jackson wanted to come early. She didn't specify what method of communication was used.
She drove Jackson from Washington on Sunday and took him to the prison on Monday evening.
"He didn't just show up early," she told reporters. "It was our understanding and it still is that he would have been able to report early -- and ultimately he did."
Jackson, 48, was sentenced in August to 30 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to misuse of $750,000 in campaign funds, money that went to personal expenses like vacations, fur coats and movie memorabilia.
His wife, Sandra Jackson, pleaded guilty to filing false tax returns that failed to account for hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxable income. She was sentenced to 12 months in prison.
Jackson has promised to pay $200,000 toward his $750,000 fraud judgment by November 1, according to court documents.
Filed last week, the documents show that Jackson has so far been unable to meet his financial obligations in the judgment and has promised to sell a property he owns in Washington in order to start paying it off.
The filing requests that Jackson be given until June 2014 to pay the full amount. He will need to submit a status report by mid-May.
The property Jackson is promising to sell is in Washington's costly Dupont Circle neighborhood. Jackson could also be forced to sell a property in Chicago.