In what has to be a crushing blow to his father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, his son and namesake, Jesse Jackson Jr, was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison.
Jackson Jr, 48, served as an Democratic congressman in Illinois from 1995 until he resigned in November, 2012.
Prior to his resignation, and facing numerous federal investigations, Jackson Jr., took two leave of absences from office and spent time in numerous medical facilities, including the Mayo Clinic, where he was reportedly treated for depression and bipolar disorder.
He was paid while he away from office for nearly five (5) months,
He was also forced to place his multi-million dollar home up for sale.
Jackson Jr. was reelected to office without even campaigning and resigned shortly thereafter.
At his sentencing on Wednesday, he was scolded by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman for spending nearly a million dollars of campaign funds on personal items which included TV’s, Rolex watches, fancy dinners and, of course, his lavish home.
The judge said that the situation was tragic and that she would send the wrong message to the public that there are two system of justice; one for those well-connected and one for those that aren’t, if she did not give him prison time.
It appears that Berman did indeed send that very message that there are two justice systems by sentencing the well-connected Jackson Jr. to a very light prison term which was well below what federal guidelines call for.
He could have faced just under 5 years in prison, had the judge followed federal sentencing guidelines.
Would a regular “John or Jane Doe”, who has done good things for his or her community received such a light sentence for stealing nearly $1 million dollars?
Jackson Jr, apologized to his parents and others for his misdeeds and agreed to repay the money that he stole.
His wife, Sandi, was sentenced to serve one year in prison for tax evasion charges, however she too appears to have been given extremely preferential treatment and will not have to start her sentence until her husband is free so that she may care for their children.
Ask yourself again, if someone who is not “well connected” would be treated the same.
Families are torn apart each day when both spouses go to prison for lesser violations. Children are taken and placed into foster care while both parents go to prison because, oftentimes, the parents do not have the resources or support system to make arrangement for their children.
In the Jackson Jr. case, there are ample family members that have both the time and the financial resources to care for the children who by the way are ages 13 and 9.
You have to wonder if Sandi Jackson will ever serve even one day in prison.
Actions like Berman’s send a terrible message to all Americans especially our youth and, in particular, to the young members of the black community who aspire to become public servants.
The message is that if you lie, cheat and steal but are well-connected, you can stash your money away, do a short stint in jail and resume your life because you face a different justice system than the average American.