George Ryan Shouts Down Death Penalty Before Taking His Leave
George Ryan. The name brings up a laundry list of titles. Former governor. Inspiration for our current governor. Keeper of the flame for Illinois politics in general. And, equaling the infamy of his corrupted reign, death penalty opponent.
On Friday, Ryan appeared at DePaul University to make a speech concerning the ultimate capital punishment. It was one of his first public appearances since being sentenced for racketeering and fraud charges in September. He spent 45 minutes talking about his stance on the death penalty and how it had gone from pro to con, and how a death sentence moratorium should be put into effect worldwide. Ryan gained notoriety apart from his crony scandals when, before stepping down from office in 2003, he commuted every death sentence in Illinois to life, even releasing four wrongly-convicted prisoners outright. One of those prisoners, Madison Hobley, put in an appearance at DePaul alongside the former guv. Hobley praised his erstwhile pardoner, saying Ryan was going to be all right. Unless a miracle descends and Dubya pardons him, frankly, we're not sure how "all right" a 72-year-old man in federal prison is going to be.
No mention was made during the speech of Ryan's corruption trial, his upcoming six and a half year prison term, or his recent pension troubles. His wife, Lura Lynn, was in attendance, along with their three daughters; none of them made any comments to the press. As to why Ryan even delivered the speech, sources close to him say he's just getting in his licks while he still can.
Image via The Rutherford Institute.