COMMENTARY | I’m no fan of Rod Blagojevich. The former twice elected governor of Illinois isn’t someone I ever thought should be in office. I didn’t vote for him and was glad when he was ousted from the highest office in my state. That being said, to sentence him to 14 years in a minimum security federal prison is more than just excessive; it’s criminal.
I have a friend who is currently in one of these prisons on a drug charge. Let me tell you what his day will be like. He’ll get up around 7:30 and work for maybe 10 minutes a day. The rest of the time he will be doing little or nothing. He can read, watch television, sleep or eat. He will not be in a cell. He will be in a room with 2-4 others like himself. He will not be attacked. Fights are almost unheard of in prison camps and that is where he will be. If you fight or even argue a lot you are shipped elsewhere. So it’s a calm environment. He will be paid 12 cents an hour for a minimum of 4 hours a day. Even if he only works 10 minutes, he gets paid for 4 hours. He will spend a lot of time asleep. That is the favorite activity of 99 percent of the inmates. The minimum security aspect of the camp includes no cameras, no alarms, no locks and no guards. My friend has three officers a day for 300 inmates. Each works alone on an eight-hour shift. There are count times at 4 and 9 p.m. Other than that the inmates have little to no contact with the officers. The inmates run the camp and they don’t leave because that isn’t allowed.
For this the American taxpayer pays roughly $40,000 a year to house each inmate. That’s how the federal system works. That’s what Blagojevich is facing when he drives himself to his designated prison in 90 days.
I live in Illinois and my state is one of the hardest hit by the economic disaster that is our economy. Blagojevich had a large part in this while he was in office. I still think that sending a man who did not commit a violent crime to spend 14 years sleeping on my dime is excessive.
While I don’t care for the man personally, I am realistic enough to know that while what he did was a crime it’s not unique in politics. Sending a message is one thing, 14 years is excessive and I believe violates his constitutional rights as being “cruel and unusual” punishment. The top story on Fox News when the breaking story of the Blagojevich sentencing red-lined was that the statute of limitations had long expired on the Syracuse coach who molested several children. So the man who committed violent acts against children goes unpunished while a man who tried to sell a senate seat gets 14 years.
Good luck Mr. Blagojevich. There is no real justice in the justice system anymore.