Prison survival advice for Rod Blagojevich

Ex-con and former Chicago City Clerk Jim Laski tells Blago how to make it in jail.
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By As told to Jake Malooley |
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Rod Blagojevich is starting his 14-year sentence in a Colorado federal prison on March 15. As a former city clerk who did time for a corruption conviction, do you have any lockup survival advice?

Most important, Blagojevich has got to check his ego at the door. Drug dealers and gangbangers don’t care that you were governor or that you were on Celebrity Apprentice.

Your first day there will be the worst day of your life. They strip-search you, and you’re standing there stark naked. It’s a very dehumanizing, humbling experience. They give you five pairs of socks and five pairs of underwear. When you get to the commissary, you’ll want to buy more.

Just know that everyone else knows you’re the new guy—and the last thing you want to do in prison is stand out. Blagojevich is such a talkative guy. He can cite scripture and poetry. That’s all wonderful, but no one in prison cares. People don’t like to answer questions: “What are you in for?” Don’t talk about the past. Talk about sports or the weather. Don’t go walking around shooting your mouth off.

There are people on the inside that are looking for a fight. If Blagojevich is in the first row of chairs in the TV room and someone comes in and tells him to move over, he better move. There are kinky people in there, too, so you don’t want to flaunt. You don’t walk around naked. You go into the shower stall with your towel and soap with your boxers on, and you walk out wearing boxers.

He has to find ways to keep him occupied. I would recommend he do a lot of reading and exercise. I walked. He likes to jog. I would shoot hoops once in a while. I did bocce ball a couple of times. I’m a Catholic, so I became an altar server at the Sunday masses.

There’s no stylin’ and profilin’ in prison, so Blagojevich might want to consider a different hairdo. He’s not going to be going to Mario Tricoci. He’s going to have Sam the drug dealer cutting his hair.

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