WASHINGTON — Lawyers for former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who awaits sentencing July 3, say he needs ongoing mental health treatment for a mood disorder and assert that he is unlikely to get suitable care if sent to prison.
“It is unlikely that Mr. Jackson will be able to establish a trusting relationship with a Bureau of Prisons psychiatrist quickly enough to maintain his progress toward improved mental health,” the lawyers wrote.
They called Jackson’s mental health struggles “significant and well-documented.”
Their statements were in a revised memorandum filed Friday in which the defense lawyers again asked that Jackson be shown leniency at sentencing. Their original memo was filed a week earlier.
Federal prosecutors want Jackson to be sentenced to four years in prison.
According to the memorandum, two psychiatrists who have treated Jackson, 48, for mental health problems have written letters to the court on his behalf. But the memorandum does not name the doctors nor make public their letters.
One of the psychiatrists said Jackson has a mood disorder that is probably bipolar disorder II, according to the memorandum.
According to outside experts not quoted in the memo, bipolar disorder is diagnosed either as bipolar I, or its milder form, bipolar II. The more severe form of bipolar disorder affects about 1 to 2 percent of the population. That percentage goes up — to about 5 percent — if you count people with the milder form and those who show some symptoms of bipolar disorder but do not fit the diagnostic criteria.
The American Psychiatric Association defines bipolar II disorder as “major depressive episodes accompanied by hypomanic episodes,” the lawyers said.
Psychiatric research has tied compulsive purchasing and spending to mood episodes in individuals with bipolar disorders, the lawyers said.
Jackson pleaded guilty in February after admitting that he took more than $750,000 from his campaign treasury over several years and spent the money on a Rolex watch, furs, cashmere, vacations, celebrity memorabilia and other goods.
Both psychiatrists emphasized the importance of Jackson receiving continued mental health treatment, Jackson’s lawyers said. “Without such treatment, his progress will cease, and he will be much more likely to relapse (portions redacted),” the memorandum said. “With effective treatment, his prognosis for good mental health will be significantly improved.”
The defense lawyers cite a 2006 study by the Justice Department that found “only 24 percent of federal inmates with mental illness received any mental health treatment while incarcerated, and only 15 percent received professional mental therapy.”
A shorter sentence would “allow Mr. Jackson to return to the care of Dr. (name redacted) as soon as possible to continue the progress he has made,” the lawyers said.
Jackson, a Democrat, represented Chicago’s South Side for 17 years in Congress until he resigned in November. Last June, he began a leave of absence and was treated at a facility in Arizona and at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
His wife, former Chicago Alderman. Sandi Jackson, 49, pleaded guilty to not reporting about $600,000 in income on their tax returns over many years. Prosecutors want her to go to prison for 18 months and suggested that she serve before her husband does so their children, ages 9 and 13, would not be without a parent.
Her lawyers want probation for her. Like her husband, she is scheduled for sentencing July 3.
©2013 Chicago Tribune