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Blagojevich Approaches First Year Behind Bars

Blagojevich Leaves

Rod Blagojevich leaves his Ravenswood Manor home for O’Hare International Airport to report to prison. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Friday marks one year since former Gov. Rod Blagojevich began serving his 14-year corruption sentence in a Colorado prison.

WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports Blagojevich called it “the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do” a day before he reported to the Englewood federal prison near Denver.

Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years after he was convicted of trying to sell or trade an appointment to the U.S. Senate and to obtain campaign contributions in exchange for other official actions.

At last report from his attorneys, Blagojevich was about to begin working in the prison library last November, after starting out washing dishes like any other new inmate.

The state he left behind has taken some steps to political reform, but University of Illinois at Chicago political science professor Dick Simpson said they’re just baby steps.

“What we have is a culture of corruption, so we have to undertake a whole series of majors; the most important of which is, of course, to elect public officials who not only say they’re for reform, but actually implement it,” he said.

Simpson said, with the ongoing trial of Cook County Commissioner William Beavers on tax evasion charges, and the recent guilty pleas of former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife, former Ald. Sandi Jackson, for misusing campaign funds, it’s clear the culture of corruption persists in Illinois.

He said it will take a long time to root out that ingrained corruption.

“It will take a generation or two; at least a decade or two,” he said.