Former Illinois Governor Blagojevich Requests Drug Program

In a surprise move on Tuesday, December 14, 2011, attorneys for former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich have asked that he be sent into a drug rehabilitation program as part of his sentence, according to an AP report. This move has several practical implications for Blagojevich, including potentially leading to an additional year off of his 14-year sentence. There has been no prior public acknowledgement of either a drug or alcohol problem.

Blagojevich who was sentenced on December 7, 2011, in federal court for corruption and trying to sell President Obama’s former Illinois Senate seat, is facing 14 years in prison. With time off for good behavior, a virtual certainty, he will serve a little under 12 years. While the general public tends to see this sentence as either fair or lenient, those with more of an inside track on how the federal prison system actually works tend to see the sentence as excessive.

When Blagojevich self-surrenders to his designated prison, his attorneys have requested the low-security facility in Englewood, Colo., he will be issued a set of clothing, given a job and expected to abide by the same rules as everyone else. Within a month he will meet with his team consisting of the unit manager, his case manager and his counselor. This team will be responsible for any programming, including drug treatment and eventual half-way house time. Should he be accepted into the Residential Drug Abuse Program, attendance will come at a much later date.

RDAP programs generally have a lengthy waiting list and most inmates aren’t excepted until at least half of their sentence has been served. Exceptions are made in the case of inmates with fairly short sentences. The goal of the program is to give inmates the tools necessary to live a drug free life after prison. The goal for the inmates is the additional year off of their sentence and having to work fewer hours.

Successful completion of the RDAP program will cause an automatic review of the inmate with their team and most inmates with at least a 3-year sentence are granted the additional year off along with additional half-way house time.

Blagojevich will most likely serve five to six years of his sentence before being accepted into the RDAP program. Due to the length of his sentence the prison system will not be in a hurry to get him into the program.

One of the things that the general public is normally unaware of is that while the judge sentences a person to prison, they actually have no control after signing the papers. After that the prison system takes over and their rules prevail. The judge can recommend a particular prison; the Bureau of Prisons will make their own decision. The judge recommends RDAP; the prison decides if he’s right.

Also on Tuesday, Blagojevich was given a month extension before he has to report to prison. The official date is not March 15, 2012. The reason given was that he needs to help his family move into a new home.

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