Blagojevich proclaims innocence, describes prison life after bre - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Blagojevich proclaims innocence, describes prison life after breaking five-year silence

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WSIL -- When former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich stepped into a Colorado prison in 2012, he stepped out of the public spotlight.

But now he's breaking his silence, speaking to Chicago Magazine in an exclusive interview, conducted over the course of two days in May and July.

Blagojevich is serving a 14-year prison sentence on corruption charges, including an attempt to sell President Barack Obama's former Senate seat.

His ground rules for the interview put his criminal case "off limits" for discussion, but he did shed some light on the events that led to his prison term. He still believes he never crossed any lines in seeking to raise campaign contributions and to give in to the pressure to make a plea deal would have been "to dishonor himself, setting a cowardly example for my daughters."

The magazine profile also includes a photo of the former governor with his famous jet-black hair turned gray. Cameras weren't allowed in the prison so Blagojevich had to rent a camera from the commissary and have another inmate take it for him.

Blagojevich called his decision "a hard and unhappy experience" that has forced him to live "in exile." He called prison life hard, describing heat "so oppressive, sleeping gets almost impossible."

He said he spends more time with the drug dealers in prison than the white-collar criminals, calling the drug dealers "far more honest."

Blagojevich called prison segregation pervasive, saying guards pushed him to befriend white supremacists but he "politely declined."

Prison has also put a strain on his family, which he said has grown more distant.

The lifelong Cubs fan had planned to watch the World Series with his daughter but the prison rejected his pleas for a television and his daughter stayed home.

Blagojevich won't become eligible for release until May 2024 and said he believes in second acts, refusing to give up on his future.

The entire story can be read here.

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