Conrad Black, that is. Back in federal prison, but one can hope not for too long.
His is a great story, and hits so close to home for me in so many ways. There’s a book out, of course, A Matter of Principle, reviewed here by Jonathan Kay:
The effect can be measured in numbers. Exhausting and painful as the courtroom and prison cell have been for Mr. Black as a litigant and husband, they’ve proven fountains of youth for Conrad Black, the man of letters. On a typical writing day, he produces as many as 3,000 words, a pace that allowed him to produce the 1,200-page Richard M. Nixon: A Life in Full in the space of six months while awaiting trial — and then the 600-page A Matter of Principle while housed in Cubicle 30, Unit B-1 at the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex in central Florida. Free men should be so productive.
I have often said, probably right here on this blog somewhere, based on nothing more than anecdotal evidence from years of practicing law – because of course no statistics on such unthinkable things are kept – that about 20% of people who are convicted of crimes and sent to prison are not really guilty of anything that merited such an outcome. How interesting that Lord Black comes to exactly the same conclusion:
By Mr. Black’s estimation, up to 20% of prisoners in American jails have done absolutely nothing illegal to merit their sentences. A decade ago, these forfeit lives meant nothing to him. But in prison, they became his meal companions and students; and their tall tales, street wisdom and outsider posturings have shaped his worldview and attracted his sympathy.