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Judge Rejects Ex-Illinois Guv Ryan's Wish To See Dying Wife

Dec 21, 2010

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Frank James

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Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan didn't get his wish to be released from federal prison on bail so he could be with his dying wife.

His request was part of a larger petition, also denied by the court, that his conviction on corruption charges be overturned.

Ryan, 76, had hoped that because the Supreme Court earlier this year limited prosecutors' use of the so-called "honest services" law under which Ryan was convicted, he could get his conviction reversed.

U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer not only didn't drop the conviction, she turned down Ryan's request for bail so he could be with his wife of five decades, Lura Lynn, who has terminal cancer.

In November 2007, Ryan began serving his sentence of 6 years, 6 months. He's due for release in 2013.

Pallmeyer wrote:

This court takes no pleasure in depriving any defendant of his or her liberty.  The court has had the painful duty to take such action in circumstances more compelling than these—where a young defendant with little education or resources is the sole support of small children, or is the only caregiver for a disabled relative, for example.

Any sensitive judge realizes that a lengthy prison term effectively robs the convicted person of what we all value most: months and years with loved ones, some of whom will no longer be there when the sentence has been served.  Mr. Ryan, like other convicted persons, undoubtedly wishes it were otherwise. His conduct has exacted a stiff penalty not only for himself but also for his family.

Ryan is not only known for being one of several Illinois governors convicted over the decades on corruption charges.

He gained worldwide attention in 2003 for commuting the sentences of everyone on Illinois' death row after a number of condemned men were released following new investigations that absolved them of the crimes for which they were convicted.

From the Chicago Tribune:

George Ryan is "devastated" by a federal judge's decision not to release him from prison early so he can be with his wife who is dying from cancer, his family said today.

"Is this what American justice is now?" Ryan's son Homer told reporters in front of the family's home in Kankakee hours after the 58-page ruling was handed down.

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