Would You Choose The Yankton Federal Prison Camp Or The Federal Correctional Institution Englewood? The Chicago Criminal Perspective

Scott Fawell

Scott Fawell must really love being in the spotlight.

Why else would you talk to the media not once, but twice about your time in the federal prison system within several months?

If I had done time, I think I would try to put it behind me. But I haven’t worked in the upper ranks of the Illinois political system which, let’s admit, has shown it’s not the best and brightest example of American democracy.

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich is only the latest example of its failings.

I actually blogged about Fawell in December, when he spoke with the Chicago Tribune about how he had participated in the drug rehabilitation program while incarcerated at the Yankton Federal Prison Camp. He is former chief of staff of another disgraced Illinois governor, George Ryan.

According to Carol Marin in a 2009 blog at the Chicago Sun-Times, Fawell is not a shy man. It probably explains why I’m reading about him again.

It’s clear he still has the talent to make people apoplectic.
Fawell was Gov. George Ryan’s Karl Rove back in the glory days when Republicans actually had power in this state. He’s out of prison now, out of work and short on cash.

After five years of being locked up as a result of the federal corruption probe that has his former boss still behind bars, Fawell broke years of silence by appearing with his lover/fiancee Andrea Coutretsis on Channel 11 on Wednesday night.

In many ways, it was the couple’s coming out party after his convictions on racketeering and bid-rigging charges and hers for perjury.

Fawell, 52, who still carries himself like a cocky frat boy, arrived with his arm around the still-stunning Coutretsis, 40. They looked more like a couple returning from West Palm Beach than two felons back from Club Fed.

Today’s story in the Chicago Tribune is about how Blagojevich will probably be staying in the Colorado federal prison he had requested.

Cue Fawell for his thoughts on Blagojevich’s choice. In summary, he thinks it may be better than Yankton if the former governor wants any visits from his family. Read for yourself:

Local political figures familiar with the federal prison system were divided on the wisdom of Blagojevich’s choice. Lawrence Warner, a co-defendant of Blagojevich’s predecessor, convicted Gov. George Ryan, served most of his 18-month sentence at the work camp at Englewood.

Englewood gets high marks from inmates for its location. The area is surrounded by lakes and golf courses, and the more than 300-acre compound is wooded and filled with wildlife, all framed by distant Rocky Mountains, Warner said.

But only inmates of the camp get to enjoy the majestic setting, he pointed out. Inmates in the low-security prison, which was built in the 1930s, don’t get to work on the grounds as the camp inmates do. Their time outdoors is limited to an hour or so per day.

“When I was there, I saw eagles, I saw coyotes. It was just beautiful,” Warner said. “He’s not going to get that. He’s going to see it maybe through a window or the prison yard.

“I don’t know why he wanted to go to (the prison) at Englewood. There are prisons in the system that are newer and nicer.”

Perhaps more important, unlike many prisons, Englewood is located in the suburbs of a major city—and a major airport, with more frequent, affordable flights than a penitentary in a remote, rural setting, pointed out Scott Fawell, another Ryan co-defendant.

Fawell requested assignment to a federal prison in Yankton, S.D., spending most of his 52-month sentence there, along with shorter stints at prisons in Terre Haute and the spartan Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago.

“I’ve seen a bit of what the federal prison system has to offer,” Fawell said. “Most of the guys I knew (that were familiar with Englewood) said it was nice.

“It beats being in the middle of cornfields. Most places where they build prisons are not nice. They’re (dumps).”

Fawell said his wife spent more than $20,000 on travel to and from Yankton, which typically included a flight into Omaha, a car rental, a two-hour drive to Yankton and an overnight hotel stay. Littleton, just south of Denver, would be far easier to get to for Blagojevich’s family to visit.

“If I’d had it to do over, maybe I would have stayed there. But I didn’t even know where Yankton was. I didn’t do much research,” Fawell said. “I assume (Blagojevich) did his research.”

So is Yankton one of the “dumps” Fawell is referring to in the story? It isn’t spelled out for certain. Perhaps if it is, that isn’t such a bad thing. I’m not sure Fawell is someone we are dying to have move to the community anyway.

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