Mt. Vernon Register-News

State News

August 14, 2013

Prison for Jesse Jackson Jr.: a 2 ½-year sentence

(Continued)

WASHINGTON — —

In court, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson recognized Jackson Jr.'s public service on issues such as public education and clean water. "That's what makes this situation so tragic," she said.

But the judge said that if she gave him no jail time it would send a message that there are two systems: one for the well-connected and one for everyone else.

"I cannot do it. I will not do it," she said, adding that as a public official, Jackson was expected to "live up to a higher standard of ethics and integrity." She also said that Jackson's actions could not be excused because of mental illness. He has been treated for bipolar disorder.

Federal sentencing guidelines called for a prison term of 46 to 57 months — or just under four years to just under five years. The government had recommended four years, while Jackson's lawyers had asked that his sentenced be limited to 18 months.

Jackson's lawyer, Reid H. Weingarten, said the case lacked the typical victim found in most criminal cases.

"There are not widows and orphans surrounding the courtroom wanting his head," Weingarten said.

But prosecutor Matt Graves said the crime was serious: "These were extreme abuses," he said.

Sandra Jackson will be permitted to serve her sentence after her husband completes his. The couple, who have two children, 13 and 9, asked to serve at separate times.

"I stand before you today asking for mercy," Sandra Jackson said. "My heart breaks every day with the pain that it's caused my babies."

Her lawyer, Dan Webb, tried to persuade the judge to spare his client jail time, arguing that it would be an "unbearable burden" on the children. But the judge old Mrs. Jackson, "It is not the court that put your children in this position."

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