Is Rod Blagojevich claiming a problem with drugs and alcohol?
His attorneys won’t say. During a brief hearing before Judge James Zagel where lawyers asked that Blagojevich be placed in the Federal Correctional Institution in Englewood, Colorado, there was a fleeting reference to the Bureau of Prisons Residential Drug and Alcohol Program. But after court, defense attorney Sheldon Sorosky downplayed that discussion.
“I don’t know anything about that,” Sorosky said. “That would be up to the people at Englewood.”
The words “request for RDAP” were clearly heard in the discussion. If Blagojevich is requesting the alcohol program, he would be availing himself of a well known course which can shave as much as a year off of an inmate’s sentence.
RDAP has enthusiastic supporters. Larry Warner, co-defendant of former governor George Ryan in his own corruption trial, says it made a profound change in his life.
“That thing does good!” Warner said. “I learned so much.”
Warner served his sentence at Englewood, and praised the counselors there. He said he had begun drinking heavily during his own tribulations, and that RDAP helped him to understand why.
“I love learning,” he said. “I probably studied harder than anybody in the program. It was very insightful about why you were reacting in certain ways, and why you were doing things.”
“My problem was caused by all of this pressure that was on me for eight years.”
While Warner said he came to see himself as an alcoholic, most of the inmates with whom he went through RDAP were facing problems with drug abuse. He said he knows some inmates have a cynical approach to the program, using it as a scam to shorten their sentences, but in his own case, it was a genuine benefit of prison life. Warner says he has even stayed in touch with younger inmates he met in RDAP classes.
“I would have taken the program, even if it didn’t give me more time off.”
If Blagojevich is granted his request to serve his sentence in Colorado, he would be housed in an institution which is literally in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
Warner said he approached his sentence with a philosophy that time in prison is what you make it.
“Think of the good, not the bad,” he said. “You can do good time, or bad time. It’s all up to you.”
Inmates traditionally attend RDAP classes at the end of their sentences. For Blagojevich, that would mean a wait of nearly eleven years.