The end of the Jackson family political dynasty arrived Wednesday as a Chicago power couple ready-made for the cameras learned the next few years of their lives will be spent taking turns in prison.
Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., the civil rights leader's son who once dreamed of becoming mayor or senator, and his wife, former 7th Ward Ald. Sandi Jackson, were tripped up by a taste for luxury that was bankrolled with $750,000 from campaign funds.
On their day of reckoning, the Jacksons brought up a host of personal struggles in an effort to inspire sympathy: his reported mental illness, her series of miscarriages, the plight of their two children if they lost their mother to prison.
In the end, the former congressman got 30 months in federal prison and could end up serving about five months less if he behaves behind bars. The former alderman got a year and stands to serve it all.
Jackson Jr. was given until at least Nov. 1 to begin his prison term. Federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson said supporters of the former congressman — including his own father — had urged her in letters to put him on probation. If she were to do so, she said, it would appear as if there were two systems of justice, "one for the well-connected and one for everybody else."
"I cannot do it," she intoned. "And I will not do it."