Plymouth Congregational Church

God for All

George Ryan – Early Out?


President Obama is being pressured to grant former Illinois governor George Ryan an early release from prison due to the terminal illness of his wife.  A federal jury convicted Ryan in April 2006 on fraud and racketeering charges and he was sentenced to serve 6 1/2 years in prison.

The ex-governor’s wife, Lura Lynn Ryan, 75,  has a terminal lung disease, and is on oxygen 24 hours a day.  Ryan, in an Indiana federal prison for more than two years, has health problems of his own, including kidney disease and infected teeth.

Another former Illinois governor and now Ryan’s attorney, Jim Thompson, has said that George Ryan has been punished enough, and that there’s really nothing to be gained by keeping him for his entire sentence (scheduled to be released  in 2013).  According to Thompson, the Ryan’s are penniless.  And one of the reasons Ryan supporters give for his early release is “it’s not like he committed murder or anything.”

In January 2003, George Ryan cleared out Illinois’ death row, commuting the death sentences of more than 160 inmates to life sentences.  He was later nominated for the Nobel Peace prize.

Considering all things, do you think George Ryan should be released early?  Why or why not?

photo of George Ryan –


2 thoughts on “George Ryan – Early Out?

  1. Becky – we talked about this in our Adult Bible Discussion class this past Sunday. One person spoke in favor of his early release and another spoke out against it. The latter stating that there are plenty of other people in prisons who might be in the same situation – would we let all of them out early? Which is a good point. Your point that he did do some good things, such as the moratorium on the death penalty, is also something to think about. While capital punishment might not be a bad thing, there have been too many cases in which it turned out that the wrong person was convicted. BUT . . . would a person think twice about committing a crime if they knew they would have to serve the entire sentence, without hope of an early release?

  2. I would support the former governor’s early release. Maybe because I’m not from IL, I’m less able to hold a personal grudge against this man. There is a reason to punish to some extent the guilt of these charges – that has been accomplished. The guy may be a total gooney-goo-goo, but he has done good things, such as sparing the life of 160 people (albeit convicted felons — still God’s children).

    He was sentenced to prison, not the heartbreak and regret that would be unmeasureable for not being with his wife on her deathbed.

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