At a Springfield news conference on Tuesday, Dick Durbin said he believes that George Ryan “has paid a price for his wrongdoing.”
With that in mind, the Illinois senator is mulling whether to
support clemency for the imprisoned former governor, who has served 13 months of
At a Springfield news conference on Tuesday, Dick Durbin said he believes that George Ryan “has paid a price for his wrongdoing.” With that in mind, the Illinois senator is mulling whether to support clemency for the imprisoned former governor, who has served 13 months of his 6-and-a-half-year sentence. Ryan’s lawyers officially submitted their clemency request yesterday.
The consensus on the op-ed pages this morning? An unrepentant Ryan doesn’t deserve any breaks.
The Sun-Times editorial board says it’s crucial that people don’t lose sight of Ryan’s crimes :
His trial did not reveal a public official who made an error or two in judgment against the backdrop of an otherwise unblemished career.
Instead, it detailed a public official who presided over systemic corruption in two elected offices—first as secretary of state, then governor—to further his own political career and line the pockets of his friends who, in turn, helped bankroll Ryan’s lifestyle.
An early release would be a slap in the face to the victims, according to the Tribune's editorial:
Nine people—six of them children named Willis—lie dead because of corruption under George Ryan, a disgraced former governor of Illinois. When Ryan was secretary of state, as many as 2,000 truckers bribed his employees to get driver’s licenses. Some of that blood money flowed into Ryan’s political fund. And some of those unqualified truck drivers caused crashes that killed those nine people. [...]
As you mull seeking clemency, remember: George Ryan earned every consequence he faces, every price he pays. Those nine victims? They’re paying a much higher price.
In an open letter to Durbin, Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown takes issue with the idea that Ryan has served sufficient time:
You say he has paid a price for his crimes, and I’d agree. But it’s not the price set forth in the laws you and George Ryan were sworn to uphold, nor should it be.
And, Tribune columnist Eric Zorn wonders if the callous former-governor should at least have to admit wrongdoing before earning forgiveness:
[H]is failure to apologize or even to recognize his crimes hardens my heart. As the men who prosecuted him wrote in a statement … opposing Ryan’s release, “one of the principal factors in determining whether commutation is appropriate is whether the petitioner has demonstrated acceptance of responsibility, remorse and atonement.”
Ryan did not demonstrate this in his statement to the judge at sentencing … and has not demonstrated it since.
Say you’re sorry, George. Really, really sorry. Then we’ll talk.
The Daily Herald has more on the debate. And the Chicago Reporter's Fernando Diaz will continue the discussion at 1p.m. today on Vocalo's Overdrive program, which you can hear at 89.5 FM in the Chicago area or online here .