Reaction Mixed To Blagojevich's Early Prison Exit

WBBM Newsradio Staff
February 18, 2020 - 3:35 pm
Rod and Patti Blagojevich 2012

(Photo by Frank Polich/Getty Images)

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Related: Patti Blagojevich Keeps Husband's Case Alive

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- President Trump's commutation of the prison sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich elicited a range of reactions -- both positive and negative -- Tuesday.

Trump said Blagojevich has served enough of his 14-year-sentence at a Colorado federal prison. The ex-governor had been convicted of a variety of corruption charges stemming from his time as the state's chief executive. 

Senior U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, like Blagojevich, a Democrat, has previously indicated the prison sentence handed down by federal Judge James Zagel was too harsh. 

Criminal justice reform activist Ziff Sistrunk tells WBBM Newsradio he is overjoyed at the news because people have served far less time for more serious crimes, such as murder. 

"I feel like a pregnant woman who has just brought her newborn child home," he said. 

Among those opposing Trump's clemency toward Blagojevich is Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor, current Democratic Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider.

"President Trump has abused his pardon power in inexplicable ways to reward his friends and condone corruption, and I deeply believe this pardon sends the wrong message at the wrong time," Pritzker tweeted.

Another former federal prosecutor, Patrick Collins, said Blagojevich's prison term was on "the high end" of what's appropriate, but adds commuting the sentence will "normalize" public corruption and make it appear perhaps less serious than it is.

The White House Tuesday said Blagojevich has been an exemplary prisoner and noted that several public figures have supported clemency.

"He has spent 8 years in prison.  People from across the political spectrum and from varied backgrounds have expressed support for shortening Mr. Blagojevich’s sentence, including Senator Dick Durbin, Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr., former Representative Bob Barr, Representatives Bobby Rush and Danny Davis, former Attorney General Eric Holder, and Bishop Byron Brazier."