Monday, July 4, 2011

Two more years. Then Ryan's free

There are no “holidays” in the federal corrections system. Nobody is doing anything special for the inmates to allow them to share in the joy of celebrating Independence Day.
RYAN: Two more years

It’s just another day in the time they have to serve. For the people who work there, I’m not sure if they get overtime for having to be on duty this day.

SO ANYBODY WHO thinks George Ryan is celebrating on Monday, I’d say the thought is highly unlikely.

Although Ryan has been back in the news in recent days, both because everybody is eager to compare the plight of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich to his own. And also because Ryan (a.k.a., 16627-424) is now a widower.

One-time Illinois first lady Lura Lynn Ryan passed away June 27 (the same day Blagojevich was found guilty) following extended illness, and an even lengthier time period trying to twist the arms of anyone she could think of who might be inclined to grant some sort of sympathy toward her husband.

Either overturn his conviction, or somehow commute his prison sentence to the nearly four full years that he already has served (which by Chicago political corruption standards is fairly lengthy).

IN SHORT, RYAN the ex-governor lost his most outspoken advocate – along with his life-long partner.

Now from my perspective, I was pleased to learn last week that Bureau of Prisons officials allowed the warden of the work camp that is part of the Terre Haute Correctional Center in Indiana to be reasonable when it came to permitting furloughs so that inmate Ryan could help comfort his wife.

Officials didn’t use the distance between his Indiana prison and his Kankakee hometown (where Lura Lynn was hospitalized) as an excuse to justify a hard-line approach to keeping them apart.

Fortunately for him, Ryan was able to be at his wife’s side when she passed away, just a few hours after Blagojevich learned he likely will be “going away” somewhere for an even lengthier amount of time than Ryan’s 6 ½-year sentence.

ALTHOUGH HE WAS not permitted to remain in Kankakee once she died. So George was not able to attend the funeral services held for his wife. He got to grieve while tending to his usual prison routine – which includes a job in the prison wood shop.

Now anyone who has read my copy before realizes I feel a certain level of respect for the former governor, in part because I recognize the accomplishments of his time in elective office. They’re far more substantial than the gridlock that the Legislature became entangled in with Blagojevich.

A part of me still believes, and likely always will believe, that the most hard-core element against Ryan are the people who object to the accomplishments of his gubernatorial term on ideological grounds, and are all too eager to see him taken down for whatever reason they can justify.

Which just strikes me as being mean-spirited and petty.

THEY MAY BE just as petty and small-minded as Blagojevich himself, who truly seemed to let his ego run amok and put himself first over the public good when dealing with other government officials.

So those people who are now complaining that federal authorities allowed for Ryan to be on hand with Lura Lynn both last week and on three other occasions during the past year (at points when her health took a turn for the worst) are really indicting their own sense of decency, rather than saying anything bad about Ryan.

If anything, the fact that Bureau of Prisons officials were capable of transporting Ryan to Kankakee on so many occasions may well be the evidence that he is NOT a security risk, and that he doesn’t pose any threat to society at this point.

The man is 77 years old, and isn’t exactly in the best of health himself.

WHICH ACTUALLY IS the undecided factor in terms of how Ryan’s situation turns out.

It seems that President Barack Obama isn’t inclined to do anything that would let him out any earlier than Independence Day 2013 – the date that currently is scheduled by the Bureau of Prisons for Ryan’s release. Some might argue that the president would be more likely to approve some serious form of immigration reform than do anything favorable to Ryan – because both acts would equally tick off the ideologues.

Will Ryan survive for two more years to make it to his release date? Will we have the ideologues all worked up in a rabid lather 731 days from now, complaining that somehow Ryan didn’t suffer enough?

Anything is possible when it comes to this crowd. They just seem determined to complain anytime George Ryan’s name is brought up.

WHICH IS WHY I wonder if the likely outcome for Ryan is that he gets a pardon someday in the distance. I’m talking about something that comes AFTER he serves his sentence.

It would allow his family some sense of respect. It also is not out of the question. It is what ultimately happened to one-time House Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski – who got to finish out his life as a political elder statesman, rather than an ex-con.

Somehow, I think it might be fitting, even though I’m sure Ryan at this moment is just trying to get through his “time” day by day, and is trying to figure out how to do it without his wife at his side.

For that latter point (and I don’t care how much you despise the man), we all ought to be offering him our condolences.


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