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updated: 12/10/2011 9:52 AM

Fawell: Blagojevich's time will be tough

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  • George LeClaire/gleclaire@dailyherald.com Former Governor Rod Blagojevich speaks to the press, with his wife Patti, after his sentencing hearing at the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago on Wednesday, December 7th.

      George LeClaire/gleclaire@dailyherald.com Former Governor Rod Blagojevich speaks to the press, with his wife Patti, after his sentencing hearing at the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago on Wednesday, December 7th.

 
 

SPRINGFIELD -- Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's laments that the worst part of a long prison sentence is being torn from his family and missing a large part of his daughters' youth are right on target, says Scott Fawell, a former inmate and chief of staff for Gov. George Ryan.

"They have a school play, you're not there," Fawell said. "It's tough to keep that little family unit together."

"That's the worst part," he said.

Fawell now works as a political consultant and lives in Buffalo Grove, but that's only after serving more than four years at a federal prison camp in South Dakota, having been convicted on corruption charges like his former boss.

He says that as time goes on, and Blagojevich remains behind bars, visits from his family might become tougher. The expense of traveling to a prison, as well as his daughters' active lives, might make visits more rare, Fawell said.

"They have their own lives," Fawell said.

Ryan is now serving his sentence of more than six years at a federal prison camp in Terre Haute, Ind., where he lives in dorm-style housing.

But Blagojevich might expect a more harsh situation, at least at first. Inmates sentenced to more than 10 years are generally sent to secured prisons, said Federal Bureau of Prisons spokesman Edmond Ross.

That means that, at least at first, Blagojevich would spend his nights in a cell. Whether or not he'd have a roommate would be determined based on several factors, Ross said.

"They don't want to put him in a situation where he's in harm's way," Fawell said. After several months or a year, the former governor might get moved to a facility with conditions more like Ryan is now experiencing.

Blagojevich would have access to a running track to indulge his most famous hobby, but loops of track would be a far cry from the Chicago streets and Springfield parks where he once ran. He can also keep his famously thick head of hair; prison rules only mandate that it be kept sanitary.

In either type of facility, Blagojevich would work a job. It could be in food service, landscaping or any of an assortment of other options.

Ross says the agency generally tries to place an inmate in a facility within 500 miles of his family, to make visiting a little easier. Where Blagojevich will be placed could be decided several days after the court sends the Federal Bureau of Prisons his paperwork.

Proximity could be important for keeping in touch with family, Fawell says, because phone time is limited. Inmates get only 300 phone minutes a month -- or 10 minutes a day.

"Good luck to him," Fawell said.

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