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Former Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) said Thursday that he isn’t interested in a return to public life, but he does want to be involved in reforming the prison system. Ney was released from prison in August 2008 after serving 17 months of a 30-month sentence for conspiracy and making false statements in the corruption scandal centered on ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Ney and his one-time staff director Neil Volz are in town for the Washington, D.C., premiere of “Casino Jack and the United States of Money,” a documentary about Abramoff and his high-flying lobbying act representing Indian gaming and Mariana Island sweatshops.

While both Ney and Volz said they have no desire to return to the halls of Congress, Ney believes he could be part of an awareness and education campaign about how to fix the prison system. Ney said his time in what he calls the “Bush Housing Program,” otherwise known as the penitentiary in Morgantown, W.Va., gives him unique insight.

“I think Members of Congress and judges before they are elected should be required to do prison time,” Ney said.

Ney said that would give elected officials a broader experience to address a complicated system where drug addicts aren’t rehabilitated, just housed in jails before returning to the streets.

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