Community reacts to Blagojevich's 14-year jail sentence

December 8, 2011

Produced by Eight Forty-Eight

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(AP/Nam Y. Huh)
Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years on corruption charges Wednesday.

Rod Blagojevich received his sentence Wednesday: 14 years for 18 counts of corruption. The ex-Illinois governor was first arrested nearly three years ago on Dec. 9, 2008. He was ordered to report to prison next February. Blagojevich made a plea for mercy and argued that a lengthy sentence would compromise his family. Judge James Zagel expressed that family ties did not amount to a get out of jail free card and said that Blagojevich "does not stand convicted of being a bad father." And the federal judge had a message for everyone else too: "American voters," he said, "usually get precisely the government they deserve.”

So Eight Forty-Eight gathered reactions from politicians, political watchers and everyday people to hear their thoughts on the latest turn in the lengthy saga of Rod Blagojevich. The show heard comments from: Gov. Pat Quinn, Chris Mooney, Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, Chapin Rose, Lemont Claybrooks, Dash Jerome, Dan Ferretti, Bonnie Turbeville, Brian Gladstein, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, Seine Riley, WBEZ's Robert Wildeboer and Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon. And of course, Rod Blagojevich himself.

Eight Forty-Eight then opened up the phone lines to hear what listeners thought: Did Rod Blagojevich get what he deserved? Did the citizens of Illinois? Or is this sentence too extreme in a state best known for political corruption? Listeners shared their comments by phone, e-mail and tweet. And WBEZ's Justin Kaufmann moderated a live chat.

We’ll take your calls all hour.  The number is 312-932-9239. You can email your comments to 848 at wbez dot org. Or tweet us - we’re AT 848.

A handful of guests joined the conversation: WBEZ reporters Robert Wildeboer and Sam Hudzik, both were at the Dirksen Federal Building for the sentencing hearings. Wildeboer is WBEZ’s legal and criminal affairs reporter and Hudzik is WBEZ’s political reporter.

And to help unpack the legalese of the Blagojevich sentence, Eight Forty-Eight was joined by two local experts. Alison Siegler is an associate clinical professor and the director of the Federal Criminal Justice Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School. She testified before the United States Sentencing Commission to help establish sentencing guidelines and practices for the federal courts. Steven Miller is former Chief of the Special Prosecutions Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago -- where he led the political corruption program for a number of years. Miller joins us by phone.

Music Button: Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra, "Power Surge", from the album Strings & Things, (Ubiquity)