Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Lord Black is off to the Big House (eventually)

He has until March 3rd to provide himself to Federal officials at the Coleman Federal Prison Camp, a Florida prison that seems to be home to a large number of white collar criminals. Originally his Lordship was sentenced to Eglin Federal Prison camp, but a twist in the incarceration road came up, as it turns out it that Eglin has been reported as being a closed facility now, apparently due to cutbacks and it's rather soft reputation. An unfortunate development, considering the relative comfort that it provided as far as being incarcerated would go.

For Conrad Black, Coleman will be his home for seventy eight months, as the bigger than life Press Baron of Canada who the world watched tumble spectacularly over the last few years, completes that downfall meted out in a Chicago courtroom.

The end of the current judicial battle came today in a Chicago court room, when Illinois Judge Amy St. Eve proclaimed that “I frankly cannot understand how someone of your stature could engage in the conduct you did.”

With that declaration Black was sentenced to his time at the federal prison camp, a place that will be his stage until near his seventieth birthday.

While he had a few words for the judge in his statement to the court, it wasn’t the lengthy address that many had been warning about. Instead, Black expressed regret for the shareholders of his former empire who suffered because of the free fall in the stock of the company. An indirect reply that seems to suggest that he still believes he did nothing wrong and that the stockholders suffered from the net result of the subsequent investigations and incompetence of his corporate successors.

Once outside the court he provided a simple indication that an appeal (maybe more than one) is planned and that by that appeal he is still proclaiming his innocence.

“I think the fact we’re appealing speaks for itself.”

While the appeals process works its way through the American Legal System, Perhaps Mr. Black may wish to learn more about what’s ahead for him.

While it’s not quite a gulag, a prison is still a prison, he will have a cubicle, he will have mundane jobs to tend to and he’ll have lots and lots of free time to ponder among other things, whether sneaking 13 boxes out of a Toronto office building (captured on an in house video system) really was such a wise thing to do after all.

Being a learned man, Black enjoys reading and writing. He’ll have plenty of time to do both over 78 months, no doubt ready to churn out more of his historical tomes and perhaps even to recount his travels in American business empires and subsequently the legal system.

But if he’s looking for a heads up on life in the camps, there’s no shortage of first hand accounts to look up on a Google search.

Or if he prefers he can pick up a book by David Novak, a first time felon who served his time at Eglin, working in the bakery and making notes of his surroundings.

It’s a fairly in depth review of the routine of the prison camp life, the dramas, the attitudes, the food and even the occasional fights. Novak put his time in the camp to good use, he now provides consultations with prison bound CEO’s to give them an advance look at how their life is about to change.

Eglin has been the home to some of America’s most upper echelons of criminals, from politicians to corporate leaders, the well manicured and fence less lawns have been their punishment for misdeeds done.

If they have a guest book, Convict Black will no doubt find many people that he has perhaps rubbed shoulders with in the past have passed through their doors, his name now one soon to be added to the list of those that have been punished, all the while keeping a few of the social graces.
And while Eglin has been closed, we suspect that Coleman probably offers many of the same scenarios that Novak outlined in his reflections of a convicted man.
Then again, perhaps Mr. Black will request to serve his time in the United Kingdom, having surrendered his Canadian citizenship to become a Lord, he can't take advantage of the Canada/US incarceration agreement that could have seen him serve his time in a Canadian prison and qualify for parole earlier that the American requirement of having served 85% of your sentence.

England has a similar policy of early parole for good behaviour, so before they strip him of his Lordship, he may be able to parlay his Instant Britishness for a cell and time frame more to his liking.

Then again, nothing beats the Florida sun in the winter time, surely a much more civilized place to serve your time than a rainy British prison or a snowbound Canadian institution.

What Lord Black should expect:

The Coverage of Black Monday:

National Post--6 1/2 YEARS
National Post--Live Blog: Conrad Black sentenced to 6.5 years, fined $125,000
The Age Australia--Judge Jails Conrad Black

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