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Rod Blagojevich a substance abuser? He seeks treatment in prison.

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But none of that material hinted that Blagojevich struggles with drug or alcohol abuse. As a result, some Chicagoans suspect he is trying to game the system for a reduced sentence.

“It wasn’t mentioned during the first trial, it wasn’t mentioned during the second trial at all, even when he testified. So I think that you have to look at that a little skeptically,” former assistant US Attorney Jeff Cramer told a Chicago ABC affiliate this week.

Still, getting into the federal program is “not easy,” according to former US prosecutor Marcellus McRae, now in private practice in Los Angeles.

Because the program has a mechanism to determine if a request is legitimate, it is unlikely Blagojevich can manipulate it in his favor, says Mr. McRae.

“The fact that you have the probation department and judge as well as all the people involved where this referral is happening, you would think the presence of all those people would serve as a filter to determine if this is a meritorious or nonmeritorious effort,” he says.

Federal judges are inclined to support these kinds of recommendations, McRae says, because they view incarceration as not just imprisonment, but also rehabilitation.

“People think the purpose of prison is purely for punishment and the state doesn’t care how long people stay there. [The Blagojevich recommendation] is actually insight into the fact that the criminal justice system tries to provide paths and mechanisms and incentives for people to come out as productive citizens,” he says.

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