Several of former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s (D-Ill.) constituents are asking a federal judge to show him no mercy when he hands down his sentence.
The charges of using campaign funds for personal use, which Jackson has pleaded guilty to, are worse than murder, Chicago resident Gregory Ritter said in a letter to U.S. District Court Judge Robert L. Wilkins.
“While the act of being a hypocrite is not punishable. The violation of this magnitude has made our democracy shiver.”
Jackson admitted to spending $750,000 worth of campaign funds on televisions, appliances, movie tickets and jewelry. His sentence is expected to be handed down July 1.
The former congressman faces up to four years in prison, but his lawyers have pleaded with Wilkins to show leniency. They note Jackson’s doctor has described him as being mentally unstable.
Some of Jackson’s onetime constituents say Wilkins should throw the book at him.
“The congressman comes from a prominent family and has been afforded the best education that a lot in our society has not,” wrote Tiny Hawkins, of Markham, Ill. “I am asking that you do the right by his constituents and treat him as you would any other person.”
She said Jackson “did absolutely nothing for our district for the time he served.”
Hawkins said that her mother had asked Jackson to talk with Markham Mayor David Webb about a drug problem in their neighborhood, but “he refused to do so.”
Martin Dettmer, a dentist in Wheaton, Ill., asked the judge to “apply the full force and limits of law allowed in sentencing.”
Dettmer compared Jackson’s attempt to leverage his mental illness for leniency to a drunk driver attempting to use the disease of alcoholism to get a lighter sentence for vehicular manslaughter.
“A strong message needs to be sent and an example needs to be made!” Dettmer wrote. “Please do everything in your power to see that Representative Jackson pays, and pays dearly, for his egregious and repulsive behavior.”
Jackson's crime even inspired Frank Bailey, from Oak Bluffs, Mass., to ask the judge to give the former lawmaker “the maximum jail time in a regular prison and not in some country club setting.”
“The whole country will be looking at your decision, and Jesse Jackson should not be given a mere slap on the wrist,” he wrote.
Ritter also asked for Jackson’s father, the famed civil rights leader and former presidential candidate the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., to be investigated to see if he was complicit in attempts to cover up his sons crimes.
Not all the letters received by the judge damned Jackson for his behavior.
Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) — the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus — asked for leniency, as did an Illinois teamster representative who called on Wilkins to “be merciful."
And at least three other private citizens wrote to ask for some variation of mercy, saying that he had “integrity,” did “wonderful things for his district” and that his “misdeeds certainly do not outweigh his good deeds.”