What can ex-Gov. Blagojevich expect behind bars?

December 9, 2011 4:16:19 PM PST
The clock is running for Rod Blagojevich, who will turn himself into custody in February to begin his 14-year sentence for corruption.

Authorities have not said where the former governor will serve his time, but as is standard, the Blagojevich defense team sent an email to Judge James Zagel with their preferred prison. They are not discussing it publicly, but the judge will have an option to recommend a prison; the final decision is up to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

While his team charts an appeal, Blagojevich waits. That waiting period is the hardest time, according to Scott Fawell, the former chief of staff to former Gov. George Ryan.

"The worst time, really, is the time between sentencing and actually turning yourself in because there's nothing left to do. Now you know it's real, and it becomes a little bit of a countdown," Fawell said.

Fawell spent his time at a federal prison camp where there is no exterior fencing and inmates sleep in a dorm-style setting.

Nearly all Illinois elected officials convicted of political corruption over the years have done their time in prison camps. But that will most probably not be the case for Blagojevich because the length of his sentence - being more than 10 years - would mean assignment to a prison designated as low security.

Among all the prisons in the north central region, three are so-called low security facilities: Sandstone, Minnesota; Englewood, Colorado; and Milan, Michigan. Some experts believe that Milan - which is 45 minutes south of Detroit - may very likely be where Rod Blagojevich is sent.

Milan has perimeter fencing and guard towers. It also has both cell and dorm style sleeping quarters.

Every workday - Monday through Friday, inmates must wear their prison khaki uniforms - shirts tucked in, and on arrival, they get a work assignment which they perform for three months until their next work assignment.

Ultimately the Bureau of Prisons will decide where ex-governor Blagojevich is sent. The designation of a low-security prison instead of a camp - because of the length of sentence - is not a hard and fast rule, it's a general policy. There are exceptions, but not often.


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