As Judge Amy Berman Jackson weighs the sentences she will hand down to former congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. and wife Sandi, friends and foes of the couple are weighing in, including Rep. Marcia Fudge, who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus.
Jackson and his wife entered plea deals in February for charges related to a $750,000 spending spree fraudulently funded by campaign money. They will be sentenced on July 1 and could receive up to 57 months and one to two years, respectively.
“As you weigh the fate of Congressman Jackson, please consider the many fine characteristics he possesses, and his dedicated and passionate service for the people he represented in the United States Congress for nearly 18 years," Fudge wrote. “Jesse is worth saving and I know he can continue to have a positive impact on the lives of others as he has with my colleagues and me.”
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Fudge also noted that looking back, colleagues realize that Jackson, who is bipolar, showed signs of the illness in recent years. But he was "a tireless advocate for the poor and underserved" and the "highlight of our karaoke nights."
The judge has so far received 14 letters, the Sun-Times reports, eight in support of the couple, six calling to have the book thrown at them.
Martin Dettmer, a dentist from Wheaton, Illinois, said in his letter that Jackson's illness should not justify leniency.
"Citizen’s everywhere (and especially in Illinois) are sick and tired of behavior like Rep. Jackson’s! A strong message needs to be sent and an example needs to be made!" he wrote. "Please do everything in your power to see that Rep. Jackson pays, and pays dearly, for his egregious and repulsive behavior.”
Family friend Bettye Odom suggested that the shame Jackson feels has been its own form of punishment.
“I look at Jesse now and see only remorse and shame. He does not look me straight in the eye as he has done all his life," she wrote in a letter calling for leniency. "He realizes the mistakes he has made and I see the shame in his face."
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(Photo: REUTERS/Gary Cameron)