WASHINGTON — Little more than a year ago, Jesse L. Jackson Jr. was a popular young Democratic congressman pushing to increase the federal minimum wage, an issue that fit his reputation as an advocate for the less fortunate, especially those in his Chicago-area district.

But on Wednesday, the former congressman was a felon standing in a federal courtroom in Washington to receive his sentence.

Mr. Jackson, 48, received 30 months in prison for spending $750,000 from his campaign on personal items. His wife, Sandi, 49, was sentenced to 12 months in prison for omitting $580,000 in income from the couple’s tax returns while they lived lavishly.

“The inescapable fact is that you and Sandra Jackson used campaign funds to sustain a lifestyle that you cannot afford,” Judge Amy Berman Jackson said before announcing Mr. Jackson’s penalty.

The judge granted a request from the couple, who have two children, ages 9 and 13, that they be allowed to serve their sentences one at a time. Mr. Jackson will report to prison on or after Nov. 1. When he is released, Ms. Jackson will have 30 days to surrender.

“I am the example for the whole Congress, and I understand that,” Mr. Jackson told the judge. “I didn’t separate my personal life from my political activity, and I couldn’t have been more wrong.”

Mr. Jackson wept as he stood before the packed courtroom in United States District Court. He apologized to his parents, who sat in the front row next to his siblings, and said he accepted responsibility.

“I still believe in the power of forgiveness,” Mr. Jackson said to reporters after the sentencing. “I believe in the power of redemption. Today I manned up and tried to accept responsibility for the error of my ways, and I still believe in the resurrection.”

The sentencing had been postponed from June 28 to accommodate the court’s schedule. During the breaks on Wednesday, relatives exchanged hugs, kisses and words of support with the Jacksons and their parents, but an air of grief quickly descended when the court was in session.

Prosecutors had recommended a sentence of 46 to 57 months for Mr. Jackson, who pleaded guilty in February to one count of felony fraud, while his lawyers had requested 18 months. Mr. Jackson was also sentenced to three years of supervised release, and he is not eligible for parole. But his sentence could be reduced by several months for good behavior or if he receives treatment for his bipolar disorder. He also must pay back the campaign money to the government.

A lawyer for Mr. Jackson, Reid Weingarten, described him as a “good man” whose illness sometimes clouded his judgment. But Judge Jackson said that “manic episodes” could not explain the more than 3,000 times that the Jacksons used campaign money to make personal purchases, including $15,000 in kitchen appliances and a $43,000 Rolex.

“There may be gray areas in campaign finance,” she said. “This case did not come near to those areas.”

Prosecutors had sought 18 months in prison for Ms. Jackson, a former Chicago alderman. Ms. Jackson, who pleaded guilty to one felony count of filing false tax returns, must also pay $22,000 in restitution and is subject to one year of supervised release.

A lawyer for Ms. Jackson, Dan Webb, sought to portray his client as a doting mother whose absence would cause deep psychological damage in the children. He had requested a sentence of probation with community service.

In rejecting that request, Judge Jackson said to Ms. Jackson: “The court did not put your children in this position. The government did not put your children in this position.”

The sentencing marked a precipitous downfall for Mr. Jackson.

With the help of his father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Mr. Jackson was elected to Congress in 1995 from a district that includes part of the South Side of Chicago. He became one of the most prominent young black politicians in the country, working on issues related to health care and education for the poor.

But his reputation was damaged in recent years after reports surfaced that he had had an extramarital affair with a woman from Washington. An Office of Congressional Ethics investigation that was released in 2011 concluded that there was probable cause to believe that Mr. Jackson broke House rules when he was seeking the Senate seat that Barack Obama vacated after the 2008 election, but he was never charged, and he denied any wrongdoing.

Last summer, Mr. Jackson took a medical leave from Congress and was later treated for bipolar disorder. Two weeks after being re-elected for a ninth time in November, he resigned, citing his health and the federal investigation into his use of campaign money.

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