This afternoon, Colorado will have a new permanent resident, for at least the next 12 years and possibly for as long as 14. But he won’t be enjoying the usual perks, like weekend skiing, summer jaunts to bluegrass festivals or evenings at Coors Field. Ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich will instead be spending his time in the Rockies cleaning toilets and grumbling about the prison food at the Federal Correctional Institution in Englewood. He is to report to the prison today to begin serving his 14 year sentence after being convicted of 18 counts related to his attempt to sell the senate seat once held by President Barack Obama. Good behavior and the successful completion of a substance abuse program could see him released within 12 years or less, but the flamboyant and foul-mouthed 55-year-old will be an old man in any event.
A long article in today’s Chicago Tribune details what’s in store for the former governor, at times seeming a bit too gleeful about certain realities of prison life.
“Perhaps some good news for Blagojevich is that he won’t have to shave off his trademark thick hair, though maintenance may pose challenges,” the paper reports. “Hair dryers, for instance, are prohibited.”
Colorado is a popular destination for the country’s most infamous criminals. The Supermax facility in Florence is home to Mafia strongman Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, FBI traitor Robert Hannsen, Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, would-be shoe-bomber Richard Reid, WTC bomber Ramzi Yousef and other sordid riffraff. Blagojevich won’t have to tangle with such characters, however—the Englewood prison is minimum security, meaning he’s more likely to bunk up with white collar criminals like Enron crook Jeffrey Skilling.
“He hit the inmate lottery in getting there,” Alan Ellis, who wrote “The Federal Prison Guidebook,” told a Chicago TV station. “As somebody once said to me in the bureau, at a low (security prison), there’s a chance of getting punched. At a medium, there’s a chance of getting knifed.”
Still, it’s prison. As the Tribune cheerfully reminded its readers, Blago will share a cell the size of a walk-in closet with up to three other inmates and be required to do hard labor—scrubbing those toilets—for 12 cents an hour.
In other words, if he works full time and serves his whole sentence, the man who once tried to turn his political clout into ill-gotten riches, will have earned $3,494.40 by the time he’s released.
Before taxes, that is.