Thursday, July 4, 2013

They’re free. Those with problems about it need to get over their hang-ups

George Ryan is now a free man. So is Jesse Jackson, Jr., for the time being.

RYAN: He's free!!!
And I have no doubt that there are certain people in our society for whom those realities are causing them to have a miserable Independence Day.

EXCUSE ME FOR not being sympathetic to those people whose attitudes toward the two men extend far beyond any belief in the criminal justice system. It borders on the people who want their political partisanship to be reflected in the law – or more likely, for their political opponents to be incarcerated for having the nerve to disagree with them.

Just as far as the facts go, the former Illinois governor who did a nearly six-year prison term has officially completed his sentence. Released from the work camp at the federal correction center near Terre Haute, Ind., earlier this year, the time in which he must keep in touch with a halfway house on the West Side and be confined to his home in Kankakee came to an end Wednesday.

His sentence officially was to end Thursday. But it being a federal holiday, officials decided to let him go a day early – rather than have to work on Independence Day.

There are those who will want Ryan to endure the equivalent of a life sentence. They’re going to be the ones who will screech and scream that he’s somehow being given sympathetic treatment – even though he did his time (so don’t go quoting that silly line from the old “Baretta” television show theme).

EVEN THOUGH YOU could argue that at 5 ½ years of actual prison time, Ryan wound up serving more incarceration than the typical 18 months that many political corruption cases wind up getting.

And at age 79, who’s to say how much time Ryan has left in life.

It will be intriguing to see how he rebuilds his reputation. Is he destined to become the Republican take on Dan Rostenkowski – who in his life after prison wound up becoming a consultant, Election Night commentator AND even college lecturer.

JACKSON: Six weeks to go
As for Jackson, his fall will come soon enough – even though he doesn’t get to contemplate his incarceration on Thursday as deeply as his political critics want him to.

IN THEIR VISION of the way things should be, Jackson was sentenced to a four-year prison term (they want more, but that’s what the prosecutors are recommending) on Wednesday. Which means his holiday would be spent trying to work out the details of when he has to surrender himself to federal custody.

But that dream of theirs fell through when U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson (based in the District of Columbia, not Chicago) said earlier this week she wanted more time to consider their case.

Also, she says she has a crowded caseload. So now, the former Congressman from the Far South Side and surrounding suburbs will face sentencing Aug. 14.

Which, as far as I’m concerned, means his time will come. He will wind up facing the prospect of prison for federal charges that amount to using his campaign funds to buy all kinds of tacky items (how else to describe Michael Jackson memorabilia?) with which to decorate his campaign office.

IT OUGHT TO be no secret to anyone who has read any of the commentary I have published at this weblog that I think the people who are all worked up over the Ryan and Jackson criminal cases are a little too outraged.

The people who are bothered by the delay are the ones who probably most need a day off from the routines of life. They need to relax. Or perhaps they need to be reminded to worry about the problems that fill their own lives – rather than the concerns of others.


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