More than five years after he went to prison for corruption, disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is speaking out for the first time since beginning his sentence, the Chicago Tribune reports. Details of Blagojevich’s first prison interview were published online by Chicago magazine. It was done in a series of phone calls and emails over the summer with writer David Bernstein. NBC-Channel. 5 also aired an interview with Blagojevich. The interviews paint a picture of a former governor who remains “unrepentant and unbowed, if bruised, as he serves his 14-year-sentence,” the Tribune says.
Among the revelations about on Blagojevich’s life inside a federal prison in Colorado: His prison ID was often a theft target when he first arrived because inmates believed they could sell it on the outside; he doesn’t have internet access or keep up with the news closely, but “I know about the murder rate in Chicago;” his prison nickname is “Gov,” and while he still reads and jogs religiously, he doesn’t follow politics; he makes $8 a month in what he calls “the reverse American Dream.” While Blagojevich’s criminal case was off-limits for the interview because he plans a final pitch to the U.S. Supreme Court, he said, “I firmly believe that I never crossed any lines in seeking to raise campaign contributions. To say otherwise … would be to dishonor myself, setting a cowardly example for my daughters.” Blagojevich was convicted of crimes including trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat that belonged to Barack Obama. Five of the 18 counts — those related to his efforts to secure a Cabinet seat in exchange for the Senate seat — were overturned by an appeals court. His sentence remained the same. Prison life, punctuated by “bad sounds and bad smells,” is described as breaking down into pockets of inmates self-separated by race. Blagojevich turned down an offer of protection from white supremacists and says he gets along better with street criminals with tougher city backgrounds than the average con artist he finds there.