Black asks to serve time in minimum-security prison

Lawyers for Conrad Black have asked American prison officials to allow the convicted former newspaper mogul to serve his sentence in a minimum-security prison.

Lawyers for Conrad Black have asked U.S. prison officials to allow the convicted former newspaper mogul to serve his sentence in a minimum-security prison, something usually denied to non-Americans.

The Canadian-born Black was sentenced to 6½ years in prison and fined $125,000 US in December after being convicted of fraud and obstruction of justice. He was ordered to begin his sentence on March 3.

He has said he's innocent and will appeal the conviction.

In a letter dated Dec. 27 and filed in the U.S. court system this week, lawyers for Black ask prison officials to exempt him from the American regulation that governs foreign inmates — the Public Safety Factor analysis (PSF). Unless it is waived, foreign inmates are not eligible to serve their time in minimum-security facilities.

"On Mr. Black's behalf, we respectfully request the Bureau of Prisons to waive Mr. Black's alienage-based PSF," says the letter signed by lawyers Jeffrey Steinback and Marc Martin.

PSF considers a number of factors, including the severity of the offence, the length of the sentence and whether the person is a threat to government officials.

Black's lawyers argue that with the exception of his citizenship, none of the factors apply in Black's case.

"The only real question, then, is whether Mr. Black's status as a deportable alien … increases the risk that he would abscond if placed in a minimum-security facility," the letter said, according to a report Friday in the Globe and Mail.

The letter outlines Black's admiration for the U.S., his home in Palm Beach, Fla., and his many years of business activities in the country.

The move is effectively a bid to make Black an honourary American, said the Globe.

Black's lawyers had earlier asked that he serve his time at the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex in Coleman, Fla. However, the lawyers say in the letter that if the waiver is granted, they'd rather have him go to a minimum security prison in Miami to make it easier for his wife to visit him.

With files from the Canadian Press