What Life Will Be Like In Prison For Rod Blagojevich
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CHICAGO (CBS) — When Rod Blagojevich put his Ravenswood Manor home on the market, it was described as being “built like a fortress.”
So is a federal prison—where Blagojevich will serve a 14-year sentence for his conviction on multiple corruption counts.
But, he’ll be trading that 3,800 square feet of living space for about 50.
That’s generally the standard size of a jail cell in the United States.
His home has four bathrooms. Starting Feb. 16, 2012, he’ll have a stainless steel toilet. And if he needs to use the bathroom during visiting hours, he’ll have to do so under the supervision of a prison guard.
Where Blagojevich will serve his term has yet to be determined, and there are more than a dozen federal prisons in the Midwest alone.
But, regardless of where he ends up, life as federal inmate will be an adjustment.
And, yes, there are strip searches. And nobody cares who he is — or was — say people who have been there.
James Laski, the former Chicago city clerk convicted of bribery, did a year in federal prison and says Blagojevich better check his ego at the front gate.
“He’s going to have to strip down, and they’re going to do cavity searches,” Laski told CBS 2’s Mike Parker. “He’s going to be fingerprinted, he’s going to get photographed and they’re going to ship all of the clothes that he wore that day back in a box back home to his wife.”
Upon arrival, he will be provided an orientation handbook, which describes daily inmate life and rules and regulations that every inmate is expected to follow.
According to the handbook, Blagojevich will be given standard issue prison clothes, a bedroll and personal care items, like toothpaste, soap and shaving cream. He will eventually be required to purchase those hygiene items from the commissary.
At the prison in Yankton, S.D.—where top George Ryan aide Scott Fawell spent part of his 4.5-year sentence—the prison uniform is khaki pants and shirts.
Inmates are allowed some personal items—things like underwear, socks and a baseball cap. At Yankton, they can also have one pair of athletic shoes, but they must cost less than $100.
The handbook even will instruct the former governor on how to do his laundry.
Cell inspections are done routinely, and beds are expected to be made each day. Blagojevich will be responsible for sweeping and mopping the space, and taking out the trash.
“In some ways, it’s tougher for guys like me and for what Rod will go through,” Fawell said. “He’s certainly going to have to tone it down.”
As for Blagojevich’s famous hair? Pre-approved prisoners cut hair at Yankton.
“Any inmate not assigned as a Barber found cutting hair is subject to disciplinary action, as is the inmate receiving the haircut,” according to the handbook.
Generally, Blagojevich will rise to start his day at 6 a.m., with breakfast at 6:30 a.m. Inmates get three meals a day.
Blagojevich will be allowed to spend up to $290 a month at the commissary, according to the prison handbook. Money earned by Blagojevich while working at the prison–or sent to the inmate–is kept in a trust fund.
All inmates are expected to maintain a regular job. The most popular jobs are working in the cafeteria or doing “mechanical services,” like carpentry, grounds maintenance and general construction. There are more unpopular jobs, too–like scrubbing toilets.
Blagojevich will be required to fill out a list of people who he would like to have visit.
There is no limit on the number of immediate family members who can be on the list.
However, he will limited to no more than 10 non-family members on that list.
Policies vary at different prisons, but visiting hours are typically on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visitors are also allowed on federal holidays.
But visitors aren’t allowed every week. At Yankton, inmates are placed on a three-week rotation schedule.
Visits will be especially important for Blagojevich’s young daughters, Amy, 15, and Annie, 8. If he gets time off of good behavior, his daughters will be 20 and 27 when he is freed in about 12 years.
At the facility at Terre Haute, Ind., where ex-Gov. George Ryan is serving time, no more than five people are allowed to visit an inmate at a time.
Visitors can also be subject to pat-down searches and can only bring a small plastic bag of items into the visiting room. They are not allowed to bring anything to give to the inmate.