While some Colorado journalists might be happy to have the always-exciting Rod Blagojevich to write about for the next 12 to 14 years, one newspaper editorial board in the state believes the former Illinois governor should not be behind bars at all.
In a Sunday editorial, Colorado Springs Gazette writer Wayne Laugesen said that Blagojevich, who was convicted after allegedly attempting to sell President Barack Obama's vacated U.S. Senate seat, would "thrive" in prison:
Blagojevich will probably thrive in prison. He enjoys challenges, and this will probably be viewed by him as merely the latest chapter in a life of drama. Anyone hoping he will suffer may be sadly disappointed.
Those who will suffer, for at least the next 12 years, are his wife and young children. Daddy won’t come home at night. They may cry themselves to sleep.
The day before he left his home in Chicago's Ravenswood neighborhood and headed to the Federal Correctional Institution in Englewood, Colorado, Blagojevich told a crowd of journalists and supporters that going to prison was the "hardest thing" he has ever done, and acknowledged that things would get worse before they get better.
"As bad as it is, (this) is the beginning of another part of a long and hard journey that will only get worse before it gets better, but that this is not over."
When Judge James Zagel sentenced Blagojevich last December, jurors who found the former governor guilty said the sentence was "harsh" but "fair." Others --including the defendant's brother, Robert Blagojevich -- called the sentence "draconian" and "just wrong."
"In Illinois, reckless homicide carries a maximum term of 14 years - that's a dead body," former Blagojevich attorney Sam Adam Jr. told ABC Chicago, adding that Blagojevich received more time than many violent criminals:
Consider, for example, Outfit hitman Nick Calabrese, involved in at least 14 murders. He was sentenced to 12 years by the same judge who sentenced the former governor. Calabrese, however, was instrumental in helping the government in Operation Family Secrets.
Kent College of Law Prof. Richard Kling told ABC that some judges try to send an anti-corruption message with harsh sentences, and that comparing cases is not helpful.
"Blagojevich is a criminal and deserves punishment. But he is not a violent person," Laugesen wrote. "We should cage people who pose violent threats to society if left to roam freely. We could protect society, and punish Blagojevich, by simply imposing an enormous fine, banning him from public service of any sort, and monitoring his communication and financial activities for decades. We could take from him the power and tools he used to commit crimes of political corruption. We could demand financial reparation. We could punish Blagojevich without causing irreparable harm to his innocent children."
Blagojevich Says Goodbye