Rod Blagojevich's Life in Prison: He Makes $8.40 a Month

Disgraced Illinois governor talks to 'Chicago Magazine' in first interview
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 14, 2017 9:22 AM CDT
A 2011 file photo of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.   (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

(Newser) – The other inmates call him "Gov," of course. Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is not quite halfway through a 14-year sentence for corruption, gives his first interview to talk about life in prison to Chicago Magazine. He's doing his time at the Federal Correctional Institution Englewood outside Denver, though he's in a minimum-security "prison camp" that holds about 170 inmates adjacent to the main facility. Blagojevich works as an orderly and takes home $8.40 a month. "My jurisdiction was once all of the State of Illinois," he says. "Now I've got two hallways to clean," he says. Among the highlights: He mainly sticks to himself, and he spends most of his time reading, writing, and exercising. (The reading is mostly done in the wee hours, up to 2 and 3 in the morning, via a book light bought in the prison commissary.)

He's read Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning three times, for instance, finding solace in how Frankl found purpose under a far greater hardship, as a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp. Blagojevich, now 60, talks to wife Patti every night on the phone, and she and their two daughters visit roughly four times a year. The piece by David Bernstein includes an interview with Patti: "You can't dump somebody when things get tough," she says. "I made a promise, and there's no need to break that promise.” Blagojevich is still fighting his conviction, but unless the Supreme Court intervenes, he likely won't be out of prison until 2023. "The separation from your family and the loneliness that ensues is central to the challenge of enduring prison, of 'doing time,'" he says. The loneliness "is always with you, a constant companion." Click for the full story. (Read more Longform stories.)

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