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Third Circuit Judge Vacates Abuse Against Minors Sentences for Former U.S. Army Major, Wife from NJ

Morris County

By: Richard L. Smith 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit Monday ruled that a former U.S. Army major and his wife, convicted for having endangered the welfare of their young, adopted children through a series of physically abusive and neglectful acts, must be resentenced before a different district court judge, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.

Convicted by a jury in July 2015 on multiple counts of child endangerment, Federal officials said Carolyn Jackson initially received 24 months in prison while her husband, John E. Jackson, formerly a major in the Army at the Picatinny Arsenal Installation in Morris County, received probation, plus 400 hours of community service.

The government had appealed their sentences to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which found procedural error and ordered resentencing. See United States v. Jackson, 862 F.3d 365 (3d Cir. 2017).

At the 2018 resentencing, the district court imposed a 40-month sentence on Carolyn Jackson and the same probationary sentence on John Jackson.

The government appealed those sentences, and the Third Circuit again found procedural errors and remanded them for resentencing. See United States v. Jackson, 819 F. App’x 97 (3d Cir. 2020). At the third sentencing hearing in October 2021, the district court reimposed the same 40-month sentence on Carolyn Jackson and imposed a sentence of 18 months of home confinement on John Jackson.

The government appealed those sentences.


On Monday, the Court of Appeals agreed that, in imposing those sentences, the district court had failed to follow its directions to consider the children’s various injuries “holistically and in the context of the jury’s findings of guilt” in determining causation.

In light of the three prior sentencing hearings in this case, the Court of Appeals concluded that the district court would have “substantial difficulty in putting out of her mind her previously expressed views of the evidence.”

It ordered resentencing and directed the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey to reassign this case to a different district court judge.

According to the charges, John and Carolyn Jackson homeschooled their three biological and foster or adopted children through their local church. 

One foster or adopted daughter died in 2008.

The Jacksons were not charged with that death. The five living Jackson children were removed from the home in 2010 after one child was hospitalized with high sodium levels in her blood and found to have previously untreated broken bones. 

The charges originally stated that the couple allegedly beat the children so forcefully that two had broken bones, which were left untreated, and employed “hot saucing” as a punishment, forcing the children to drink hot sauce or eat red pepper flakes or raw onion. 

Resentencing will occur later, which has yet to be determined.