Rod Blagojevich Goes to Prison, Chicago Reacts

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich said farewell to Illinois residents in a prime-time television address Wednesday evening, one day before he heads to prison.

Blagojevich begins his 14-year prison term Thursday, when he's scheduled to report to a low-security federal prison in Colorado.

"We want to thank all the people here today and everywhere who've been supportive and kind and good to us and our children during what has been a very hard and long three years," he said.

Blagojevich pointed out his accomplishments and addressed his failings in the speech. "You can never have enough humility, and maybe I could have had more of that," he said.

He vowed to continue to appeal his prison sentence in court. "We are appealing the case ... This is not over."

"I have a hard time saying where I have to go. It's hard for me to say I have to go to prison. This, as bad as it is, this is not over. And we have faith in the future, faith in the rule of law and faith in God."

We asked PolicyMic pundits from Chicago to share their reactions to Blagojevich and his legacy. Here are the responses:

John Giokaris: "Getting only 14 years in prison is a relatively easy sentence for setting us 30 years back. He left Illinois a mess, and worst of all, with Gov. Pat Quinn, who gave us all a 67% tax hike as a consolation prize. Blagojevich turned the "Land of Lincoln" into the "Land of Late Night Jokes." Not too "f*ckin' golden."

Soren Dayton: "As someone who has lived in Chicago for most of my life, Blagojevich is a demonstration of the worst of Chicago politics. He rose in politics because he married the daughter of a ward leader, not because of any talent, vision, or call to service in his own right. This is how Chicago operates. There are other "golden" things that many more Chicago politicians are trying to expropriate for themselves and their friends every day. Hopefully the Blagojevich experience has taught us all what happens when government runs not to serve the people, but only the people in government."

Daniel Cetina: "Blagojevich deserved to go to prison...for 3-5 years. 14 years is far too much. I'm not defending the man or his deeds, but there are murderers who go for less."

And here are some updates from the blogosphere and social media:

 

Video: Blago talks of his "dark and long" journey.

 

As Politico reports in the awesome story "Blagojevich Will Find Life Inside a Jolt, Ex-Inmates Say": Jim Laski — a fellow Chicagoan and ex-city clerk who was known during his one-year sentence as number 18413-424 — recalled his first day as “dehumanizing.” For Blagojevich, he said, it might be worse.

“Someone like Blagojevich who’s been driven around his whole life, he’s had everybody do everything for him, now he’s not Rod Blagojevich anymore,” Laski, who was convicted of corruption and served time at a minimum-security prison in Morgantown, W.Va., told POLITICO. “He’s just a number.”

When the sun set on his first day, Laski remembered thinking, “How do I get through this?”

“The first night there, you go to bed and it is noisy as all heck. It’s prison!” Laski said. “You hear people talking who have been there a while, and you’re missing your family, your kids, your wife, and these guys are joking around and it’s prison.”

 

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons