Wednesday, July 6, 2011

What Blago Has to Look Forward To

The St. Louis Post Dispatch addresses the unspoken as it relates to former Governor Blagojevich who is estimated to face something in the neighborhood of 10 years in the BOP custody.  This is an excerpt from Michael Tarm's Associated Press story:

An eight-digit number affixed to his prison clothes. A job scrubbing toilets or mopping floors at 12 cents an hour. His incessant jogging confined to a prison yard. Most painful of all, restricted visits from his wife and two daughters.

After sentencing for his conviction on federal corruption charges, that is likely to be the new life for impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is more accustomed to fancy suits, a doting staff and a comfortable home in a leafy Chicago neighborhood.

Most legal experts estimate that Blagojevich, 54, will get close to a 10-year sentence, though technically he faces up to 300 years after he was convicted last week of 17 of 20 counts at his retrial. [. . . ]

One fellow Illinois politician who served time in federal prison on corruption charges, former Chicago City Clerk Jim Laski, says Blagojevich can't begin to fathom how hard prison will be.  "I missed my kids' birthdays, graduations. ... You don't ever see children playing, there's a sense of total isolation. You're subject to body-cavity searches — it's horrible!" said the 57-year-old Laski, a father of three. "And I was only in two years."

Once he walks through the prison doors, no one will care that Blagojevich was once governor, Laski and others said.

"If he thinks he'll come in and get special treatment, he's in for a rude surprise," said Phil Turner, a former federal prosecutor in Chicago. "If you come in with that attitude, prison guards and other inmates will go out of their way to break you."

No sentencing date has been set yet for Blagojevich, though it should happen by year's end. A decision on what prison Blagojevich will go to won't be made until weeks after a sentence is imposed, but it could very well be the same facility in Terre Haute, Ind., that houses another former Illinois governor, George Ryan. Lawyers will likely appeal Blagojevich's convictions, but appeals of federal convictions rarely prevail.

What may weigh most on Blagojevich's mind is the welfare of his daughters — Amy, 14, and Annie, 8. If he does spend a decade or more imprisoned, he could miss many landmarks of their lives, including their high school and college graduations.

"There's always a sense of precariousness because a child whose parent has gone wonders, 'What else in my life can be taken away?'" said Mindy Clark, spokeswoman for Oregon-based Children's Justice Alliance, which helps families of imprisoned relatives.

While Blagojevich would go to a prison with minimal security, possibly with just a simple fence around it, his routine will be highly regimented, including limits on family visits and phone calls.

Laski said he ran into Blagojevich in a federal court restroom before his retrial ended and tried to convey how crushing the prison experience is. Blagojevich, he said, looked shocked.

"I told him the worst day in my life, bar none, was the day I said goodbye to my children and headed off to prison," he said. "I said, 'Rod, you better pray you don't have to go through that.'"
Obviously, I've been talking about this at considerable length, here, on Bad Lawyer.  Get your Goodfellows-ideal of a bunch of happy guys sitting around razoring garlic into a pasta sauce out of your head.  Federal prison is tough, tough, tough and this story gets it just right when they describe the worst part of it being your separation from you kids, family and friends. 

I found it nearly impossible ot say "goodbye" to my kids last November when I went off to do my 5 months in custody.  When the BSL dropped me off in front of the OurTown federal courthouse, I kissed her and jumped out of the car at the curb.  I did not look back, I could not look back.  It was many days before I spoke via phone to my family, again.  While I was away, my daughter gave birth to my grandson.  I was not there.  While having them back in my life is wonderful, I have this permament pain in my heart. 

As I said in connection with my posts about Lord Conrad Black, and the Mississippi judges who were recently resentenced--federal custody on any level is horrible, stressful, frightening, and difficult in the best of all possible situations.  By the way, if Blagojevich is sentenced to more than 10 years he will not be assigned to a minimum security camp. 


  1. That prison is bad is not likely to come as a surprise to anyone. it is supposed to be bad. What's the news here?

  2. Prison is "supposed to be bad," is news to me. I thought prison was suppose to be a separation of the offender from society, not cruel and unusual punishment. Oh and this is a "blawg" I shoot off my mouth based on what I saw and experienced over 3 decades in and around the practice of law, court, prison, recovery, etc. for "news" try the Drudge Report.