Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, whose attempted shakedowns for political
money and favors involved no gun and netted no real loot, was sentenced to 14
years in prison. Under federal requirements, he must serve about 12. St. Louis
Post-Dispatch columnist Pat Gauen notes that had Blagojevich killed someone
and been convicted in Illinois of second-degree murder, his potential sentence
could have been probation.
Compared with most nonviolent crimes – and many violent ones – 12 years is a
long time, Gauen says. How do you deal with a dozen years when you’re already 55 years old?, he asks.
What about the deterrence factor? Says Gauen: “Blagojevich was the fourth
Illinois governor convicted of crimes, with each required to serve actual
prison time of somewhat more than twice the one before. Otto Kerner’s seven
months didn’t deter Dan Walker, whose 18 months didn’t deter George Ryan, whose
5 1/2 years didn’t deter Blagojevich. If his 12 years don’t do it, maybe 25 for
the next guy will.