Friday, March 16, 2012

For Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich Faces An Unpleasant Time in Prison

And Difficult as This is to Say, Maybe Too Long a Sentence

This week the disgraced and convicted former Governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich will start a 14 year prison sentence for various crimes committed while he was Governor of the very embarrassed Land of Lincoln.  Politico has asked several former Federal prisoners, men who committed crimes while in public office, to comment on what Mr. Blagojevich will face when he starts his term at a not very nice prison in Colorado.

Rod Blagojevich departs his home in Chicago for the second day of his sentencing hearing on 18 corruption counts, including trying to to auction off President Barack Obama's old Senate seat. | AP Photo
The Hair May Not Make It in Prison

A trip to the big house would be humbling for anyone, but it is a particularly degrading ordeal for a man who until a short while ago dreamed of being president. To find out what Blagojevich can expect inside, POLITICO talked with ex-pols who served time behind bars about how best the disgraced 55-year-old Chicago native can survive prison.

The experience these other miscreants experienced does not bode well for Mr. Blagojevich.

When the sun set on his first day, Laski remembered thinking, “How do I get through this?”

“The first night there, you go to bed and it is noisy as all heck. It’s prison!” Laski said. “You hear people talking who have been there a while, and you’re missing your family, your kids, your wife, and these guys are joking around and it’s prison.”

The first several days are especially “traumatizing” and likely to be Blagojevich’s “low point,” said former Ohio congressman and ex-con Bob Ney. “Everything’s taken away from you.”

At Englewood, the only personal item Blagojevich will be allowed to keep in his possession is a plain wedding band.

And life, the routine life, inside the prison is not very appealing (was well it shouldn’t be).  First of all, in prison everyone has a job, and someone has to clean the toilets

A typical workday is seven and a half hours, and Blagojevich could find himself putting in time as an orderly, plumber, painter or a cook in the kitchen.

“Honestly, there’s no good job,” Ney said.

The prime gigs are working in the library, the recreation center or as a teacher, while at the bottom of the barrel is janitorial work.

“You go in and clean one of the bathrooms where there’s eight stalls and six urinals and sinks,” Laski said. “You can only imagine what that’s like.”

And many prisoners lose weight, for the wrong reason, the food is terrible

Food will be another challenge for prisoner 40892-424. Every day, the cafeteria opens for breakfast at 6:00 a.m., lunch at 10:30 a.m. and dinner at 4:15 p.m.

“There’s nothing healthy about the food,” Fawell told POLITICO. “They slop stuff on your plate and you eat what they give you. Three times a day.”

and eating may be the highlight of the day

All the former inmates who spoke to POLITICO about Blagojevich agreed that one thing is going to be a special kind of hell for him - time.

“It’s kind of like ‘Groundhog Day’ the movie – every day is the same as the day before. You’re at the same place, and you’re all wearing the same outfits,’” Fawell said.

None of this description should be read as providing sympathy for the former Governor.  Prison is not supposed to be pleasant, it is supposed to be punishment and more importantly a deterrent.  And as a deterrent Mr. Blagojevich will serve a very long sentence because he is somewhat of a celebrity defendant and rightly or wrongly celebrities get longer sentences.

In fact, the best thing that may come out of all of this is that at least one potential crooked office holder will desist from crimes while in office.  If so, then Mr. Blagojevich can comfort himself with the thought that at long last he has done some good in public service.

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