Dennis Hastert reports to prison Wednesday

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Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert must report to the Federal Medical Prison in Rochester, Minn., by Wednesday. (WLS)

An ABC7 I-Team Report
Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert must report to the Federal Medical Prison in Rochester, Minn., by Wednesday.

Hastert will be far more insulated checking into prison than he was the last few times we saw him, walking the press plank to and from federal court in Chicago. Officials at the prison hospital say they won't reveal any information about his arrival except that he has to be in by 2 p.m. Wednesday.

On the other side of the fenceline, when the deadbolts click in the night, the magnitude of what he did may finally sink in. Others like him, successful and prominent, who were here before him remember what the first night was like: locked up, the Bureau of Prisons your landlord.

"When you first arrive you're scared to death and pretty much nobody approaches you. The inmates, they all stay away from you because they need to learn who you are and what you are," says Michael Alcott, a former federal inmate.

Alcott did six years in federal prison for bank fraud. He tells the I-Team that 74-year-old Hastert is lucky he'll be doing his time in a federal prison hospital.

"Inmates call it the Holiday Inn of the system. It's better food, it's nicer employees, it's better accommodations," Alcott says.

But unlike the Crowne Plaza, there is razor wire on the perimeter and the former Speaker of the House won't be able to leave for dinner at Morton's and come back before bed check.

Ex-con Jason Chez learned that the hard way, doing three years for fraud. He now runs a company in Chicago that targets white collar crime.

"The first day is the worst, it's the scariest because you don't know what to expect," Chez says.

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Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert must report to the Federal Medical Prison in Rochester, Minn., by Wednesday.



"They're going to issue him his clothes, they'll assign him a bunk, give him an orientation sheet and get him all situated. And it's really the nerves that are the worst and then it becomes very boring after that. And you don't know if people are going to be mean, where you're going to sleep, what you can and can't do," he says.

This facility is set back from the highway and that alone will allow the former House Speaker to whiz past news crews Wednesday. He may not even been seen on the way in.

Hastert is assigned to this medical facility because he has several serious ailments, including having suffered a stroke during the time he was facing federal charges.

"He's in a medical facility mainly and he's in the low section of it, which is like a camp but with a fence and with controlled movements. And they're not violent people there; if you're looking for trouble you can find it but for the most part you're pretty safe," Chez says.

Despite his condition, Chez says Hastert will have some of kind of assigned chore and will have to abide by the federal prison schedule: Up at 6 a.m. for breakfast, lunch at 10:30 a.m., a prisoner bunk count every day at 4 p.m. and dinner at 4:30 p.m. Hastert may also find it hard to hide.

"With his case, everyone knows about it so it's going to be pretty hard to hide it or lie to them and tell them that you're in there for income tax evasion. So, yeah, they're not going to talk to him and they're probably going to yell at him and call him names," Chez says.

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