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article imageWhite-Collar Criminal Conrad Black Entering Prison Today, Will Work for $1.20/Hour

By David Silverberg     Mar 3, 2008 in Crime
Conrad Black will soon be trading pinstripe suits for a prison wardrobe after he reports to a Florida prison today to begin serving his six-and-a-half year sentence for fraud and obstruction and justice.
Digital Journal — The Coleman Federal Correction Complex in central Florida will be ushering in its most famous inmate this afternoon when the Montreal-born Black, 63, steps into the federal prison ringed by double barbed wire fences. He is expected to live in a dorm-like cubicle measuring eight-by-nine feet. It will be a stark living contrast from Black’s usual sprawling estates he owns in the Canada and the U.S.
In July 2007, media tycoon Black was found guilty of mail fraud and obstruction of justice. As CEO of Hollinger International, Black defrauded shareholders and stole $60 million US from the newspaper conglomerate.
The Black trials were fixated in the media spotlight since the charges were first levied on the millionaire, and his privacy at Coleman will continue to be infiltrated. One of the hardest lifestyle changes to adapt to at Coleman is dealing with constant surveillance and around-the-clock privacy intrusion — Black will be sharing a cell with another man, and he won't be alone in the bathroom, cafeteria and exercise facilities.
Black will face restrictions during his sentence that will be miles away from his luxuriant living. Every prisoner must work at jobs that pay between $.17 and $1.20 an hour. Moving to and from work is carefully monitored, and heads counts are an important part of the daily routine. And all documents coming and going from Coleman, including emails, can be searched by prison staff.
Mongrel Media's documentary 'Citizen Black' tells the story of the controversial media baron during the most tumultuous period of his life, showing Conrad Black's fall from grace and a side of Black rarely seen in public. - Photo courtesy Mongrel Media
Besides the lifestyle shift, Black will also have to deal with the social structure of prison life. While the Coleman facility may not be like the HBO fictional Oz prison, there will undoubtedly be factions based on either crime committed, race or geography. Will Black find common ground with the fraud “gang” or the Mafioso inmates?
And how will Black’s wife, Maclean’s columnist Lady Barbara Amiel, find comfort while her husband is incarcerated? She recently bought a dog called Jonas, named after one of her ex-husbands George Jonas.
But Black’s lawyers aren’t taking the sentence lying down. They will file an appeal on Thursday, with the case being heard in June. At the very least, Black will spend three months in prison even if his convictions are overturned. And he will taste how living in prison can even cripple the life of a white-collar criminal.
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