Today's Chicago Tribune reports, "Ryan returns home to finish sentence under house arrest." It's by Jason Meisner, Annie Sweeney, and Angie Leventis Lourgos.
Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan was let out of a federal prison in Indiana in the dead of night early Wednesday and checked briefly into a Chicago halfway house before he was released — in a surprise decision — to his home to finish out his 61/2-year sentence on home confinement.
The quick turn of events allowed Ryan, who turns 79 next month, to elude a horde of media gathered at the prison in Terre Haute, Ind., and then slip from the halfway house on the Near West Side undetected several hours later.
By 10:30 a.m., Ryan had an emotional reunion with 17 of his children and grandchildren at his longtime Kankakee home, according to his attorney, former Gov. Jim Thompson. Later in the day, Ryan's daughter, Jeanette, smiled as she left through a rear entrance. "We are very happy he's home," she said.
Home confinement for Ryan means he won't have to face weeks or months at the Salvation Army halfway house where many of the state's other disgraced politicians have had to take up residence.
Ryan is home for the first time since wife Lura Lynn died, and his oldest grandson will be staying with him, Thompson said.
"I imagine it's very hard," Thompson said. "Just as I imagine it's been very hard ever since she died and it's been very hard ever since he left her (for prison). At least he's got closure now with his family."
"Ex-Ill. Gov. Ryan released from halfway house," is the AP filing by Michael Tarm, via the Frankfort State-Journal.Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan was back at his longtime home on Wednesday following his pre-dawn release from a federal prison after serving more than five years for corruption.
He first reported to a halfway house in Chicago but in a development that took observers by surprise was allowed to go to his spacious home in Kankakee, where he'll be under home confinement for at least several weeks, his attorney Jim Thompson said.
Speaking from Ryan's living room, Thompson said Ryan was beaming and surrounded by his smiling grandchildren
"If you could see his and his grandkids' smiling faces," Thompson, himself a former governor, said by phone from Ryan's home. "He is surrounded by happy faces."
Thompson said officials decided Ryan didn't require the services halfway houses provide, which include ensuring ex-cons can use a checkbook.
Ryan will still be subject to strict rules, including prohibitions against speaking to the media or leaving the house. Thompson added that Ryan was granted retirement status by authorities, so he won't be required to find a job.
Ryan was sentenced to 6 ½ years on Nov. 7, 2007, and his term officially ends July 4 after compiling 305 days credit for good conduct, said Bureau of Prisons spokesman Chris Burke.
Looking relaxed and thinner than before prison, Ryan walked past throngs of reporters into a Chicago halfway house earlier in the morning.
Ryan, 78, left the federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., at around 1 a.m. on Wednesday -- five months before his prison term officially ended, having qualified for early release to the Salvation Army-run Freedom Center.
The Chicago Sun-Times publishes the editorial, "Ryan's redemption."
Former Gov. George Ryan probably isn’t making any big plans just yet.
Hugging his grandchildren, sitting with his children and enjoying the quiet of his own home after more than five years in prison are, we’re quite sure, more than enough for now.
But when it’s time, Ryan likely will get re-involved with death penalty issues, his lawyer, former Gov. Jim Thompson, said Wednesday after Ryan’s release to home confinement.
That sounds just right to us.
For all of Ryan’s misdeeds, Illinois’ former governor did right when it came to the death penalty.
And he did right, we think, for the right reasons.
"George Ryan's restitution," is the Chicago Tribune editorial.
In 2006, federal jurors convicted George Ryan on 18 felony corruption counts: racketeering, mail fraud, tax fraud, filing false tax returns, lying to FBI agents. Nine people, six of them children named Willis, lie dead because of the crime spree on Ryan's watch: When he was secretary of state, as many as 2,000 truckers bribed his employees to get driver's licenses. Some of that blood money flowed to his political fund — and some of those truckers caused crashes that killed those nine and injured dozens more. As U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald had said when the ex-governor was indicted: "Ryan is charged with betraying the citizens of Illinois for over a decade on state business, both large and small. ... Defendant Ryan sold his office."
And:George Ryan, ex-con, is free to vanish. But he's also free to make at least partial restitution to his victims. There is much he can say to the people of Illinois. Much he can teach to politicians of today, and tomorrow. Much he can do to renounce — to help reform — the Illinois culture of political sleaze.
If Ryan in the past didn't want to speak remorse for his crimes lest he undermine appeals of his verdict or sentence, that excuse is moot. If pride kept him from admitting guilt, he's now liberated to speak from the heart. If the native Iowan is embarrassed that four of his adopted state's last nine governors went to prison, he can demand better of the political class in whose grievous sins he wallowed.
"Welcome Home, Governor Ryan," is David Protess' essay at Huffington Post. He's President of the Chicago Innocence Project. Here's the beginning:
On a frigid February evening in 1999, I called home to check my messages. "Gov. Ryan just called you," my teenage son Ben claimed. I laughed at the seemingly obvious prank. "No, Dad, it really was the governor. I recognized his voice. He wants you to call him at home."
What could this be about, I wondered? Perhaps the Anthony Porter case? Porter was a condemned inmate who had come within 50 hours of execution, only to be freed earlier that week when my journalism students and a private investigator uncovered proof of his innocence.
As it turned out, the Illinois Republican governor and his wife, Lura Lynn, had watched Porter's dramatic release on WGN-TV. The governor was stunned. "How does an innocent man sit on death row for 15 years...?" he asked his wife in disbelief.
When I returned Ryan's call, he had a more practical question: "What can I do to help that poor guy?"
I explained that a gubernatorial pardon would guarantee Porter restitution for his 17 years of wrongful incarceration. The governor promised to promptly take care of it.
The business part of our conversation concluded, the governor stayed on the line, musing about the case. He was horrified that Porter had almost been executed on his watch. "I would have been responsible for the death of an innocent man," Ryan whispered.