Two Years, Six Months and 800 Hours

Story written by EPelle

Marion Jones is going to be separated from her pursuits of personal life, liberties and happiness for six months - an action which is the equal and just reward for crimes she committed against the United States government and against the sport of athletics.

I didn't revel in her demise when the news reached my computer yesterday, this despite having chased down leads and uncovered truths for five years which have become part of the case of The United States of America vs Marion Lois Jones. Her sentencing left me neither happy nor sad; there is an indifference I feel which is difficult to articulate, but the best way I can describe how I felt was that this won't be the end of the story for Marion Jones in this matter.

Jones skated by with the minimum sentence Federal judge Kenneth Karas felt necessary to send a message to celebrities and sports stars alike, namely don't lie and don't cheat. Her having pleaded guilty in this case automatically disqualifies her from taking the Fifth in Trevor Graham's upcoming trial, and leaves her wide open for further trouble insofar as she has still not come completely clean and full-circle in this case.

Jones risks further questions she'll be forced to answer under oath, and risks even greater humiliation as she is forced to divulge information which she has kept under lock and key thus far into her game - some 11 years after she began playing with fire.

Karas didn't buy her story of being duped by Graham, and stated during his 20-minute sentencing lecture to her that she should have been keenly aware of improvements in her times and practices - especially for an event which is measured in fractions.

Jones has been involved with steroids since her return to the sport in 1997. Trevor Graham's indictment points Jones that direction, and her own words of marked improvements after small adjustements to her training demonstrate not that Graham was a great technician, but that she found a formula for success which would transform her into a two-time USA champion in an implausibly short amount of time.

Jones having been sentenced yesterday to prison isn't worth informing you about, as you have plenty of major and minor news channels from which to draw your headlines. There are no shortage of sensationalised catch-words to reel you in.

Yesterday, I stated that Jones would damn Karas if he handed her a sentence rather than a pardon.

She didn't in public, but instead stated that she accepted "the judge's decision". What she didn't do, however, was ensure the public that what she told them and wanted them to purchase at base price was that she was being completely truthful - even during those, her final hours before sentencing was to take place.

"The offences here are serious. They each involve lies made three years apart," Karas said to Jones. He also informed her that her criminal acts were "not a one-off mistake … but a repetition in an attempt to break the law".

Marion Jones's lawlessness reaches far beyond September 2000, however, and Karas appeared wise to the facts in the matter. I don't know how much information has been shared between Karas and Northern California District Judge Susan Illston in the BALCO matters, but his decisions and comments on the matter with Marion Jones were justified and spot-on.

Marion Jones will likely be sent to Federal Prison Camp Bryan - one of six women's-only detainment centres in America. She has been ordered to self-surrender to the inmate facility on 2008-March-11.

Six months of confiment in the detention centre will provide Jones some reading time and many an hour to contemplate her future steps in life. They will also provide her much-needed time to consider what story to tell the Federal government in the Graham trial in June, and how to tell it.

If she has learned her lesson in this case - one which ends with her forced to spend time away from two sons - of which one is still nursing, she will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help her God. If she decides to take criminal advice from inmates whose own strokes of luck didn't help - rather hurt - their free movements and ability to choose, she'll land in an even bigger mess with harsher consequence and an upgraded prison facility with higher walls and an extra set of razor-wired fence.

The choice is now Marion Jones's to make. She, wanting to be a catalyst to help others, must start off by being truthful to herself. Once she has her inner-demons figured out - those which bring out the sociopathic tendencies in her - she can seek advice to begin changing her ways. She's headed to prison - a place where lies, lies and more lies have gotten a majority of the women in there, and where lies, lies and more lies rule the inner walls where it is challenging to trust your neighbour in the two-floor dormitory setting which houses the 1.000 women there.

If she can make good use of her time in helping others help themselves, Jones may find that honesty really is the best policy to ensure she has a decent shot at a good future and can be a respectable member of society who works for a living and pulls her own weight legally, lawfully and respectfully.

FPC Bryan will allow Jones to use her college degree within the prison walls. Though a communication specilalist, Jones can be granted an opportunity through the prison system to tutor and mentor women who are working toward earning their GED certificates. She will witness no greater truth than observing the varying levels of education women in the facility will possess as she interacts with them - from describing a chore to asking to have the salt passed across the chow table. There is little wiggle room for a person behind on maths or without a good grasp of the English language to fake their way to a passing score.

Marion Jones has an opportunity to make a difference to these women, and by doing so, to start making a difference to herself.

Her postal codes have changed significantly over the past year, and she will soon occupy space in a building located at 1100 Ursuline Avenue in Bryan, Texas - a facility located in an unpopular area of town. Perhaps coming down from her castle to the slums where writings on the walls tell stories of worry, frustration and a longing to be free will liberate Jones.

Then again, as time has shown on more than one occasion, it may only turn her resolve to maintain her inner strength ever the more powerful resulting in a hardness and another facade under which to live, hide and escape when the pressures mount.

She has two months to prepare herself for entry into the penal system and her boot camp. She'll have six additional months to figure out what to do with the rest of her life, and two years and 800 hours to commit to a plan to give back to the sport from which she robbed.

Will you see her sooner rather than later is the pressing question, as she has more tough answers to provide when Graham makes his way into the Federal courthouse in San Francisco, CA in five month's time - or three months into Jones's sentence.

Until then, she can practice playing the children's game "Truth or Dare?" with her eldest son and see how many times she can pick the former, rather than the latter.

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