"I ask you to be as merciful as a human being can be," said Jones, who cried on her husband's shoulder after she was sentenced.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas gave her the maximum under her plea deal "because of the need for general deterrence and the need to promote respect for the law."
As she beseeched the judge for a lighter sentence, the disgraced former Olympic champion talked at length about her children, including the infant son she's still nursing.
"My passion in life has always been my family," Jones said. "I know the day is quickly approaching when my boys ask me about these current events. I intend to be honest and forthright ... and guide them into not making the same mistakes."
The sentence completes a stunning fall for the woman who was once the most celebrated female athlete in the world. She won three gold and two bronze medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
After long denying she ever had used performance-enhancing drugs, Jones admitted last October she lied to federal investigators in November 2003, acknowledging she took the designer steroid "the clear" from September 2000 to July 2001. "The clear" has been linked to BALCO, the lab at the center of the steroids scandal in professional sports.
She also admitted lying about her knowledge of the involvement of Tim Montgomery, the father of her older son Monty, in a scheme to cash millions of dollars worth of stolen or forged checks. Montgomery and several others have been convicted in that scam. They include Jones' former coach Olympic champion Steve Riddick, who was to be sentenced later Friday.