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As clemency from Trump remains a possibility, disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich goes for a jog

Gregory Pratt and Brian Cassella, Chicago Tribune on

Published in News & Features

Blagojevich followed Republican George Ryan, who also was convicted and imprisoned on federal corruption charges. The Democrat's time in office was plagued by corruption allegations.

After the FBI arrested Blagojevich, then-U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald famously said Blagojevich's "conduct would make Lincoln roll over in his grave."

Trump's talk of freeing Blagojevich has drawn criticism from good government experts and Illinois Republicans. But his supporters have continued their public campaign. On Friday, "Welcome Back" balloons sprung up on the Blagojevich family home in the Ravenswood Manor neighborhood.

Patti Blagojevich also made a rare public appearance Saturday, marching in the Bud Billiken Parade with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who has joined her in pressing for leniency and last month co-signed a letter to the president with his son, Jesse Jackson Jr., asking that he grant her husband a full pardon.

Jesse Jackson Jr., a former Democratic congressman from Chicago, also was convicted of federal corruption charges and had actively sought the Obama Senate seat that Blagojevich was convicted in part of trying to sell.

While Trump's potential action remains the talk of Chicago, it's a much quieter scene outside the Colorado prison where Blagojevich stays.

 

Alan Ellis, a veteran attorney who authored the "Federal Prison Guidebook," said Blagojevich is housed at a "very well-run facility."

"Whenever I can, I try to get my clients in there," Ellis said.

Federal Correctional Institution-Englewood includes a tan fortress surrounded by barbed wire that holds 1,117 inmates. A small number of those inmates, including Blagojevich, are housed at a smaller camp several yards from the more imposing main building.

There, inmates can freely roam the grounds for up to 16 hours a day, according to the camp's handbook.

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