CHICAGO (CBS) — With President Barack Obama’s final days in office winding down, one man has been on a mission to see to it former Gov. Rod Blagojevich gets his 14-year prison sentence commuted.
Community activist Ziff Sistrunk said he’s hoping to hear one word in particular in Obama’s farewell address Tuesday night in Chicago: mercy.
Sistrunk wants Obama to show mercy to Blagojevich by commuting the former governor’s 14-year prison sentence for corruption charges, saying the community would be better served with Blagojevich outside of prison walls and back with his wife and daughters in Chicago.
“I know it’s just a waste of time. People in prison are just wasting time. They’re wasting taxpayers’ money,” he said.
Sistrunk said he spent the last 40 days camped out in a tent.
“Forty days and forty nights is symbolic of hope and redemption,” he said.
Sistrunk took his tent and hoped to join dozens of supporters outside Blagojevich’s home in Ravenswood on Tuesday, but he was the only one who showed up. Not even the former governor’s wife, Patti, was there. Sistrunk said he was hoping to give Patti his “candle of hope,” a metal lantern he’d lit for Blagojevich.
“We’re going to be bold, because we believe that the president is going to let him go. We’re going to get on a plane on the 19th. We’re going to go to that prison door, because we really believe that the president’s going to commute,” Sistrunk said.
The White House has said if Obama does issue any further commutations or pardons, they likely will focus on non-violent drug offenders. Sistrunk hopes the president makes at least one exception.