What are U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and Gov. Rod Blagojevich thinking? Are they really considering asking President George W. Bush to commute the sentence of former Illinois Governor George Ryan?
Ryan was indicted in federal court on Dec. 17, 2003. The charges alleged that he accepted free vacations and other perks while doling out state contracts to lobbyist friends. Ryan was convicted on all counts against him April 17, 2006. On Sept. 6, he was sentenced to 6 ½ years in prison for racketeering, conspir-acy and fraud. Ryan reported to a Wisconsin prison Nov. 7, 2007. In February of this year, he was transferred to his present location -- the penitentiary in Terre Heute, Indiana.
George Ryan is not just an eld-erly man who spends idle time contemplating how he ended up behind bars, or how he could have done things differently. He is not just a loving grandpa and devoted husband, father, and brother, although he may very well be all those things.
It is what else there is about George Ryan that has put him in prison and should keep him there. He grabbed power from his position of authority and held the fate of people’s lives in his hands. He treated the responsi-bility that accompanies that power with little or no respect. I can attest that if you disagreed with George Ryan, you were treated with the utmost disdain. While he was good to his own circle of friends and those who could provide perks to him, he did not offer the same courtesy to everyone else.
George Ryan is a convicted felon, whose jail time is the re-sult of the justice system finally doing its job, despite climbing deliberately through every loop-hole available to circumvent it.
It mustn’t be forgotten that Ryan and his pro-bono legal team, led by one of the former governor boys’ club members, tried every angle to work the system in Ryan’s favor to keep him out of jail. This was despite George Ryan being the cause of pain, suffering, and even death in his routine dealings as Secre-tary of State and later as Gover-nor of the State of Illinois.
George Ryan treated Illinois as his own personal fiefdom and he has no regrets or remorse for his actions.
It seemed to take forever for Ryan to actually be sent to prison – many months after he was convicted and sentenced. To let him out of jail after serving such a short portion of his 6 ½ year sentence would, in my opin-ion, be a slap in the face of every Illinois resident. Similar senti-ments have been echoed by nu-merous newspaper editorials, surveys, commentaries and blogs. My voice is just one more in the mix.
Bush has granted 171 pardons and commuted the sentence of eight people during his eight years as president. The latest round came last month when Bush issued 14 pardons. Ryan’s name was not among them, nor should it be.