Military child abuse case raises complex sentencing issues

The allegations were shocking: an Army major and his wife accused of abusing their three young foster children through beatings, denial of food and water and forcing them to eat hot pepper flakes as punishment.

When John and Carolyn Jackson were convicted of child endangerment in 2015, prosecutors received another shock when the trial judge, casting aside their recommendation for prison terms of more than 15 years, sentenced Carolyn Jackson to two years and John Jackson to probation.

A divided 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that a U.S. district judge’s sentencing was “substantively unreasonable” and that her rationale “defied common sense,” and sent the case back for resentencing, scheduled for this week.