RICHMOND, Va. - Michael Vick left Virginia on Monday to enter a drug treatment program at a Kansas prison, a move that could reduce the former NFL star's 23-month sentence on a federal dogfighting conviction.
The suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback is now at the U.S. Bureau of Prisons minimum security facility in Leavenworth, his attorney, Billy Martin, said.
'Mr. Vick hopes to participate in programs offered at that facility, including the Bureau of Prisons drug treatment program,' Martin said in a statement.
Vick tested positive for marijuana in September while he was on supervised release following his guilty plea. The residential drug treatment programs at Bureau of Prisons institutions take place in units set apart from the general prison population, lasting at least 500 hours over six to 12 months, according to Bureau of Prisons policy.
Upon successful completion of the program, nonviolent offenders may be granted up to one year of early release. Staff members review the inmates' records and behavior to determine if they are eligible for early release.
If Vick was granted early release, he could be ready to play in the 2009 football season, though he is suspended without pay by the NFL.
'Mr. Vick looks forward to being reunited with his family upon completion of his sentence,' Martin said. 'He is hopeful that following his release he will have the opportunity to resume his career as a professional football player.'
Vick was accompanied by U.S. marshals when he left the Northern Neck Regional Jail on Monday morning, said Maj. Ted Hull of the Warsaw, Va., jail.
Vick and three co-defendants raised pit bulls and trained them for fighting behind the property he owned in rural Surry County. Several dogs that did not perform well in test fights were executed.
The 27-year-old player pleaded guilty in August, admitting he bankrolled the dogfighting operation and helped kill six to eight dogs. He had been held at the Warsaw jail since he surrendered Nov. 19 in anticipation of his sentence.
Vick lost all his lucrative endorsement deals and still must contend with additional legal woes: He and co-defendants Purnell Peace, Quanis Phillips and Tony Taylor are facing state animal cruelty charges in Surry County. Vick's trial is set for April 2.