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Editorial: One last time: 14 years for Gov. Goof is overkill

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// ]]>Rod Blagojevich was really hoping a federal appeals court last week would put a hold on his resentencing, but the court said forget that.

So before Judge James B. Zagel hands down a new sentence, which could come any day, allow us to say it short and sweet one last time: Give Governor Goof a fairer shake.

Fourteen years in prison is a long time for a man who has always been more foolish than venal, more delusional than dangerous. Former Gov. George Ryan got 6 1/2 years for much more outrageous bribery crimes — he was seriously on the take — and nobody doubts Ryan knew perfectly well he was breaking the law. There are days when we wonder if Blagojevich knows anything.

When the appellate court last month threw out five of the 18 criminal counts on which the former governor had been convicted, along with the original sentence, the court made clear it would be perfectly OK from a legal standpoint for Zagel to re-impose the full 14-year stretch. But a sentence closer to Ryan’s 6 1/2 years strikes us as more proportionate to the crime.

EDITORIAL


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Blagojevich is guilty, no doubt. Governors aren’t supposed to squeeze people for campaign money or a big job, at least not directly, in return for appointing somebody to a senate seat, as this governor tried to do. And let us not forget how he tried to blackmail a hospital and a racetrack owner into making big campaign donations, in addition to other cheesy offenses.

But if Zagel reimposes the full 14 years, Blagojevich will sit in a prison for a little over 12 years — assuming the usual time off — almost double the time Ryan served. Former Gov. Otto Kerner, convicted in a racetrack stock scandal, served just over seven months, partly because then-prosecutor and later Gov. James R. Thompson thought the conviction itself was a severe punishment.

Fourteen years for Rod Blagojevich is overkill, always has been.

Follow the Editorial Board on Twitter: Follow @csteditorials

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