Blagojevich to Learn Fate: Running on Empty

Former Illinois Governor will get a chance to speak to the Judge before sentence is pronounced today. After so many years of legal travails, he's got to be running on empty.

I'm hoping the judge will decide on less than 10 years. If he gives him 84 months, it sends a message, is big punishment, will still wreak havoc on his family, but at least, with good time, allow him to return home in time for his younger daughter's high school graduation. I think 5 would be a fairer sentence, but I don't see the judge getting to that level after his comments today.

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    The guy has lost his house (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Edger on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 08:11:33 AM EST
    is broke, ruined, and finished.

    He's not ever going to have a chance to try to sell another senate seat again. Ever. So there is no deterrent to a prison sentence for him. Maybe making him do community service for five or ten years would be enough?

    Meanwhile democratic and republican senators in Washington are being bought everyday. Selling their own asses to the highest bidder while being treated with "respect" by the media.

    The world is upside down, backwards, and inside out.

    Exactly... (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 08:35:21 AM EST
    shady two-bit governor is the sacrificial lamb to restore faith in our institutions, which deserve neither faith nor respect.

    We don't need this clown tortured via chaining and caging, all we need is Blago and all like him out of positions of power.


    I agree (none / 0) (#3)
    by Edger on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 08:40:08 AM EST
    he's a diversion from real problems.  A media circus.

    He's the (none / 0) (#4)
    by Edger on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 08:58:31 AM EST
    Bernie Madoff or the Ken Lay of politics.

    To be fair, the theory of sentencing (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by Peter G on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 09:17:39 AM EST
    is that the punishment should be "sufficient, but not greater than necessary" to achieve the varied and sometimes contradictory purposes of the criminal justice system.  The objective of deterrence is not limited to deterrence of the particular defendant from the temptation to repeat the offense (which criminologists call "special [or 'specific'] deterrence") but also to deter others who may be similarly situated (which is called "general deterrence").  According to the great weight of studies, severity of punishment is not the key to general deterrence, but rather the perceived probability of being caught and receiving some punishment.  Besides deterrence, the other key purposes of punishment are incapacitation [physical prevention of ongoing or future criminality], rehabilitation, restitution [to victims], and just deserts/ retribution (including denunciation).  In addition, personal ruination -- both reputational and financial, including loss of pension, etc. -- is both a severe punishment to the defendant and a powerful deterrent to others who may have the opportunity, due to their position, to commit similar offenses.  

    Thanks, Peter (none / 0) (#6)
    by Edger on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 09:23:32 AM EST
    well, given what goes on in Washington every day, "general deterrence" in this case doesn't seem to be too effective.

    It's more like he is viewed as a model for behavior.


    Thanks; my reaction to the post (none / 0) (#19)
    by Towanda on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 12:14:11 PM EST
    also was, duh, that deterrence is aimed at others.  Your explanation is a useful further education.

    However, the theory does seem to have been tested before and failed already in Illinois.  One can only wonder whether the theorists might modify it to suggest just how many governors have to go to jail to provide evidence to support the theory.


    And yet, (none / 0) (#7)
    by Gerald USN Ret on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 09:25:05 AM EST
    if the former Governor does not do, say, 10 years, but only community service like say a Lindsay Lohan,
    then what is learned by the community?

    I can see the new logic now.
    "Gee, I can break the law, rob, sin, cheat and become a big Politician (or Business Man) with Millions, and if I am caught, then the most I will have to do is serve community service."

    Perhaps it is too late for some of the adults, but it is certainly not a good paradigm to teach our children.  

    Lock 'em up... (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 09:41:13 AM EST
    and throw away the key is a good lesson for the kids?

    The old feared vs. loved debate...I'm a love guy, the fear only hardens hearts.


    Love is but a song we sing; (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by Peter G on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 09:52:38 AM EST
    fear's the way we die.  You can make the mountains ring, or make the angels cry.  Your call.

    So, Gerald - you think the only thing (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Anne on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 09:49:37 AM EST
    that matters is what happens at the end?  You don't see the effect of being the lead story on the news for days and weeks on end, having media staking out your house, following you everywhere you go, pawing through every last little bit of your life from the day you were born, harassing what few friends you still have, being a pariah in whatever professional and social circles you move in, having to hire and pay for a team of lawyers, going through months and months of legal wrangling, court appearances - and then a trial, where it all gets dredged up again for the public's consumption?

    You think all that just goes away when someone at Blagojevich's level is given community service and put on probation?  That he will have his life back, just as it used to be?


    How do you feel about someone having to go through all of that, and then be acquitted?  I would guess you might see that experience as a form of unjust punishment for something that person didn't do - so why wouldn't you see it as a form of punishment for the person who is convicted?

    Accountability doesn't start in the courthouse, it starts at home.  It continues as we travel to school, to work and into the community.  With luck, we not only meet people who serve as good examples to us, but we become good examples to those around us, and those coming up behind us.

    For me, Blagojevich, if "only" given community service and probation, is NOT an example of how someone gets away with his or her crimes, but is a reminder that, once caught up in the judicial system, anyone's life can be chewed up and spit out - even if they are people of means and power.


    Anne, the problem is (none / 0) (#12)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 10:17:02 AM EST
    "everyone" doesn't have the same good moral standards you do.

    So he needs to do some time. Twenty is too much. I think seven would make the point.


    I really don't have much of an (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by Anne on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 10:31:56 AM EST
    opinion about how much time Blagojevich should do; just felt it needed to be said that the entirety of the process is punitive in many ways beyond the relatively small circle of the legal system itself, even when the eventual result is either an acquittal or a "slap on the wrist."

    Of course (none / 0) (#15)
    by jbindc on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 10:40:50 AM EST
    No matter what hapens to him, he'll be ok and so will his family.  He will get a talk show or high priced lobbying gig and will make a zillion dollars.

    As for the affect to his family, well, I feel sorry for them, but in the bigger picture, isn't that Blago's responsibility, and his alone, for the fallout to his family? But for his criminal and sleazy actions, would his family have been put through this disruption and financial and emotional cost?  (answer: no).

    Why are we so afraid to actually hold people accountable for their actions, and instead always seek to divert blame?


    Why are so afraid... (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 10:45:39 AM EST
    to demand accountability for draconian justice?

    There is a ripple effect of victims beyond the convicted that the state should bring into consideration more often.

    We stopped using leeches to treat fevers...when we will stop using the torture of confinement to deter and teach lessons and punish...there are more civilized ways we could accomplish these goals.


    What if he had been acquitted? (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by Anne on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 11:16:12 AM EST
    What then?  Same facts, same circumstances, different result.  What then?  How are we to judge the effects on his finances, his family, his reputation?

    What then?

    Because, like it or not, he came into the system with a presumption of innocence, even if everything we read, everything we were told, made us think he was guilty.

    No one's making a case that Blago shouldn't be accountable for his actions - and I'm not making an attempt to divert blame: that wasn't the point of my comment.  I am, and have frequently stated, that actions have consequences, and we all need to be aware that we only have the power to control the decisions we make, but not the consequences of those decisions.

    My point was that the process itself exacts punishment on those involved in it, regardless of their actual guilt or innocence, and regardless of the verdict.  Look at Thomas Drake, for heaven's sake, if you want to see the toll that process can take.


    You'd actually (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Edger on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 09:51:18 AM EST
    get something useful out of a politician for a change.

    I know that probably doesn't provide the same kind of satisfaction that a wonderful feeling of vicarious revenge exacted would, but there it is...


    but... but... (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by sj on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 10:19:41 AM EST
    ... but the children!  Because after all, they are so much more influenced by the sentencing of a disgraced governor than they are by the standards that are set in their own home.

    To put it mildly - "My Gosh!" (none / 0) (#18)
    by Gerald USN Ret on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 11:58:32 AM EST
    I would suppose using the same arguments given above, that Bernie Madoff should be doing his time, 4 hours, twice a week down at the NYC morgue emptying the trash cans for his penance for say 2 to 5 years.  Just look at what he and his poor wife have had to endure.  They have lost their Billions, multiple mansions, yachts, jewelery, etc., and people just don't like them any more.

    I could go through a long list, but I will let that example suffice.

    Gerald, no one is arguing that (none / 0) (#20)
    by Anne on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 12:16:28 PM EST
    Blagojevich SHOULD get only probation and community service, at least that's not my argument.

    You were the one who asked what kind of example it would set if Blago didn't end up in prison, and all I did was remind you that the process itself also exacts a form of punishment, even if the end result is an acquittal.

    It wasn't a hasn't-the-poor-man-suffered-enough argument, at all, not from me.


    Anne. (none / 0) (#21)
    by Gerald USN Ret on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 02:35:25 PM EST
    I know I sometimes come across as a stern person without a lot of compassion.

    The truth is that life has taught me that sometimes you can't help people or protect them, no matter how hard you try, no matter how much you care.

    The end result is that I want to make sure that there are no surprises or false senses of immunity from the results of bad or criminal actions.

    Especially we must teach our young that lesson.