Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich began his prison sentence yesterday, after being convicted of 18 counts and sentenced to a 14-year term. He was chauffeured to a federal prison in Littleton, Colorado this afternoon, followed by a mob of reporters and television news crews like all celebrities who get arrested. Blagojevich and his attorneys are (of course) planning to appeal both his convictions and his sentence. And, just like every other convicted celebrity, Blagojevich will probably only serve a small fraction of his original sentence.
Despite the freshness of his incarceration, Blagojevich and his attorneys are already beginning work on appeals. According to his lawyers, however, the paperwork necessary to file an appeal will not be completed for several months. This means Blagojevich will have to stay in prison at least that long, which already leaves him in the pen longer than a majority of celebrity inmates. (I’m thinking of Lindsay Lohan here, who spent a whopping five hours in prison in November despite her 30-day sentence. And of course she isn’t the only one. Chris Brown, Paris Hilton, and Kanye West also served only small portions of their respective sentences.) Blagojevich isn’t eligible for early release until he has served 85 percent of his total sentence, which would be about 12 years, though I find it doubtful that he’ll be imprisoned for that long.
But Blagojevich does have one thing working against him in his efforts to gain freedom: hHis charges were much more serious and the evidence in his case was truly damning. Among his charges was an attempt to sell or trade the then newly elected President Barack Obama’s vacant seat in the U.S. Senate. His conviction of this charge was almost a sure thing, as he was caught on FBI wiretaps discussing the proposition. He called the chance to trade an appointment to the seat for campaign funding or a high-level job “f**king golden,” a statement which effectively guaranteed his being found guilty.
It amazes me that he is filing an appeal at all, after evidence like that has been presented. Nevertheless, Blagojevich believes that “this is a country that is governed by the rule of law, that the truth ultimately will prevail.” This seems to be a statement of innocence on Blagojevich’s part, which I find astounding.
All things considered, I’m predicting that Blagojevich will spend about 5 years in jail. This would be more than a third of his sentence, which is quite a long stint by celebrity standards, a justifiable proposition considering the severity of his crimes. Five years would also give him enough time to come to terms with his guilt (as he seems to still be in the denial stage), and would give the public long enough to forget about him and how long his original prison sentence was. After serving five years, Blagojevich’s release could be authorized without fear of public outrage at yet another celebrity escaping well-deserved jail time. I may yet be surprised by the amount of time the former Governor spends in jail, I am confident that it won’t be anywhere near the 14 years he’s been sentenced to.
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