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Conrad Black: Lording It Over The Other Prisoners?

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Conrad Black's mug shotConrad Black is a very famous, wealthy and powerful Canadian businessman.

Five years ago, Conrad Black was sent to jail because he broke several laws having to do with the money he made and owed. He was convicted of obstruction of justice and mail fraud because he lied about how much money he really had, to pay off his debts.

He also tried to hide information from the authorities about the amount of money he made from selling his newspapers and real estate. The judge sent him to jail for six-and-a-half years.

Black is asking the judge to let him have some time taken off his prison sentence.

He is currently out on bail after serving more than three years of his sentence.* His lawyers say he should not have to go back and finish his sentence because he has been a perfect prisoner, helping other prisoners and taking his punishment quietly.

But two people at the jail say this isn’t true. They say Black always acts like he is better than other prisoners. He gets others to do his work, mop his floors and iron his clothes.

They say he is supposed to tutor other prisoners to help them train for jobs, but that he’s a snob and isn’t interested in tutoring at all. He just ignores the prisoner students.

The woman who takes care of his legal case said when he left the jail to go to court one day, he told her to call him “Lord Black.”

That’s a title he was given by the British Parliament. In fact, in 2001, Black moved to England and gave up his Canadian citizenship in order to get the title, “Lord Black of Crossharbour.”

Now, even though he wants his Canadian citizenship back, he is asking to be treated like a British Lord.

A judge will decide next week whether Black’s prison term will be shortened.

*CORRECTION
This article, originally published on June 13, 2011, has been amended. The article implied Black was still in jail when the accusations by fellow inmates were made.  In fact, Black has been out on bail for nearly a year, waiting to have a judge rule on whether he should go back  to jail and finish his 6-1/2-year sentence. Teaching Kids the News regrets and apologizes for the error. -Ed.

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS

Writing/Discussion Prompt
The article says that Black is currently out on bail. The article finishes by saying, “A judge will decide in the next few weeks whether Black’s prison term will be shortened.” Do you think someone who has committed a crime should be allowed to leave prison early if their behaviour has been good? Why do you think so?

Reading Prompt
Based on the information in the article, do you think the judge will shorten Conrad Black’s prison sentence?

Primary
Make inferences about texts using stated and implied ideas from the texts as evidence (OME, Reading: 1.5).

Junior
Use stated and implied ideas in texts to make inferences and construct meaning  (OME, Reading: 1.5).

Intermediate
Develop and explain interpretations of increasingly complex or difficult texts using stated and implied ideas from the texts to support their interpretations (OME, Reading: 1.5).

Grammar Feature: Adjectives
An adjective is a word that describes a person, place, or thing. In today’s article Conrad Black is described with many different adjectives. In fact, in the first sentence alone, four adjectives are used to describe the type of businessman Conrad Black is.

Conrad Black is a very famous, wealthy and powerful Canadian businessman.

Underline all of the adjectives in today’s article that are used to describe Conrad Black. When you’re done, look at all the words you underlined. What impression of Conrad Black is created by these words?