Friday, December 05, 2008

Should George Ryan get a pardon or commutation?

My former governor George Homer Ryan was convicted and then sent to prison because of his role in the "License for Bribes" scandal during his time as the Illinois Secretary of State. Recently there was talk that President Bush might allow prisoner 16627-424  to leave prison and return to his family in Kankakee. Good luck with that.

Even though Sen. Dick Durbin, who was recently re-elected in the wave that saw Obama become our next President, has taken up the cause of seeing that Gov. Ryan might be released from prison it's not very likely that Ryan will get freed anytime soon. Even a future occupant of the federal prison our current Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Ryan's immediate successor thinks Ryan should get his pardon. You must not be doing that great if a person who thinks you should get a pardon is under suspicion on charges of corruption himself.

Let me prefernce the comments about Blagojevich by saying that he is under investigation and perhaps I some point I could say more when an indictment is finally sent his way however that may come about. The US Attorney could serve up an indictment or the less likely option which could be impeachment by the Illinois General Assembly. Although at least in Blagojevich's case, any possible corruption from his administration may not have resulted in any high profile loss of life.

In any event I'm sure many might say that George Ryan should be freed from prison thanks to his age. Unfortunately the news reports I've seen has indicated that he's isn't particularly remorseful about the events that sent him to prison. Indeed some reports have portrayed him as upset that a federal jury dared to find him guilty.

Kind of unfortunate for a guy who was lauded for not only placing a moratorium on the death penalty, but also in communiting the sentences of all felons who drew a death sentence. Also unfortunate since he was also nomination for a Nobel Prize for taking action on the death penalty. It was probably significant only because there are those out there (not sure if they are in the minority or majority) who opposes the death penalty for whatever their reasoning might be. At which point it leads me to believe, cynically, that his move before he left his single term as governor was more or less a publicity stunt designed to garner himself more support, especially since at some point he might find himself in a courtroom as a defendant.

My view on this is that if he's convicted of the crime he should do the time. I understand that he may have a point as far at the jury, two jurors were dismissed during his trial because they had prior criminal convictions that they did not reveal. At the same time Ryan was found guilty of his crimes back in 2006. For that reason and thanks to the rather perceived corrupt political culture in Illinois that Ryan should continue to further serve his prison sentence.

In my mind, George Ryan's only serious crime for which there isn't a law against was that he was a part of a culture where some of his activities were accepted. He spent many years in Illinois politics starting in 1968 and ending in 2003 and probably during most of that time that activity was considered appropriate. However as the 20th century turned into the 21st century perhaps the rules was about to change. Ryan probably wasn't able to switch gears enough. The point I'm trying to make is that Ryan could have saved himself a lot of the heartache that he's going thru now.

Sometimes I would have been smart to get ahead of an issue even though it probably would be difficult. That's true especially if one benefited from the status quo. Instead from my understanding of this story Gov. Ryan chose the status quo and probably never anticipated in his whole life that he'd be not only convicted but also sent to jail. Honestly I think there ought to be a lesson here.

Also for your reading pleasure this commentary from Dan Proft on this subject.

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