Image via Wikipedia
Rod Blagojevich was never one to hold back from saying what was on his mind....and the FBI has the tapes to prove it. As Blago sets off for a Colorado prison to serve his 14 year prison sentence, he is expected to make a statement...."... just a word before I go." However, I recently spoke with an expert on what Blago can expect and it wasn't from a person who used to be in prison as an inmate. Instead, I spoke with former Federal Prison Case Manager Jack Donson who now provides consultations to those sentenced to federal prison.
A federal prison sentence of 168 months (14 years) means that Blago will get some "good time" for being a well-behaved inmate....making him eligible for release after 147 months (12 years, 3 months)....and Blago should get the Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP) since he had brought up that he had some issues with alcohol so that takes off a full year (11 years, 3 months)....and then there is halfway house of 6 months which means you may run into Blago behind the counter at the 7-11 (10 years, 9 months). So my guess is that the first sighting of a thinner, less vocal Blago will be December 2022. Wow, still a ways out there but less than the 14 years.
So why Colorado? Donson told me that the Bureau of Prisons, who has the last say on where inmates serve their time, ordinarily designates high profile offenders outside their area to lessen publicity. Donson recalled that Martha Stewart had originally wanted to serve her time in Danbury, CT but instead was shipped off to West Virginia. Also, Blago will be assigned the Central Inmate Monitoring (CIM) category of Broad Publicity. This is added to his classification in the computer system because of the national media attention. Such a designation may make it more unlikely that the former governor could be eligible for a furlough, or an ability to work in the community near the prison, as some inmates are allowed to do.
Blago will start his sentence at a Low security facility (has a fence) because of the length of his sentence (over 10 years). Offenders with over 10 years are not eligible for camp (the lowest security facility) placement. Donson said that the Bureau of Prisons can waive this requirement for added security for some inmates, but rarely do. However, give Blago a few more years and he'll be camp eligible anyway.
Once Blago arrives in Colorado he will begin filling out various paperwork on his health, people he would like to have on his email, phone and visitation lists (sure those lists are shorter these days). He will be stripped of all of his clothes and jewelry, save a wedding band so long as it is not crested with jewels. A uniform, boots, under garments and bedding will be standard issue. His bed will most likely be on the upper-level of a bunk (a prized position as a child, but as an adult, not so much). With time, he will gain seniority to get better accommodations (one of the many small advantages of doing a long prison sentence).
Then family members and friends will have the opportunity to send some money into Blago's commissary account, which funds phone calls, email, stamps and various things available for purchase at a prison store once a week. His wife and children will be able to visit on the first available visitation day, but distant family and friends may have to wait a few weeks.
Life will be different, but even that will become routine after a while. Many thanks to Jack Donson for his input.