PI Original Adam Doster Thursday December 4th, 2008, 4:51pm

Readers Sound Off On Ryan Clemency

President George W. Bush and President-elect Barack Obama
both declined to weigh in on the issue, but our readers sure didn't. As
promised, here are a few of the most interesting responses from
Tuesday's query
about whether former Gov. George Ryan should be granted ...

President George W. Bush and President-elect Barack Obama both declined to weigh in on the issue, but our readers sure didn’t. As promised, here are a few of the most interesting responses from Tuesday’s query about whether former Gov. George Ryan should be granted clemency. Judging by our reader’s opinions, the 66 percent opposition garnered in the latest Rasmussen poll seems right on.

Yellow Dog Democrat:

Now, justice demands full restitution. And I don't think that anyone can suggest that restitution has been reached after barely more than a year has been served, nor has Ryan offered contrition through his public statements ... which sound to me like the only thing he's sorry about is that he got caught.

Moreover, releasing Ryan BEFORE Scott Fawell -- who plead guilty and cooperated with federal investigators, providing key testimony -- could very well undermine every future public corruption case in Illinois.

Lars Negstad:

As Governor in 2002, George Ryan helped avert a hotel workers strike that would have crippled Chicago. Hotel workers won an immediate raise from $8.83 to $10 an hour (and now make $14.25), as well as massive improvements in health care & pension benefits, and better working conditions. He also shamed the hotel owners into giving workers a holiday on the day they become a U.S. Citizen. Without Governor Ryan's help, we might have won all that, but the cost to the City and State would have been much much higher...

Ellen Beth Gill:

I'm not clear on why someone as privileged as Ryan deserves more compassion than the average incarcerated person. He clearly didn't need to do what he did to eat, cloth or shelter himself or his family. He wasn't undereducated, under privileged or desperate. He was arrogant. I'd imagine there are parents, spouses, siblings in prison who could do some good for their families at home and we're not discussing them here and in the mainstream media. I feel more compassion for those who got caught up in over-politicized mandatory minimums than some sophisticated politician with a team of lawyers who was on the take for campaign donations.

Reader LS (via e-mail):

The man is a death penalty activist's hero. He gave the death row ten and all the Burge torture victims a hearing in the political forum when basically every other politician gave us a big f*** you. So let the old guy die at home, for Christ's sake!

Carl Nyberg:

I don't take pleasure in Ryan's suffering, but his corruption hurt real people, some more directly than others. His corruption undermined confidence in government as an institution to make a difference in people's lives.

If Ryan or his wife get really sick, Obama can commute the sentence at that point. There's no requirement pardons only be issued during lame duck presidencies.

Markg8:

Let the same crooks who financed Ryan's lifestyle take care of his family. I also agree with Yellow Dog Democrat, releasing Ryan before Fawell gets out not only sends an awful message it could cripple future investigations.

Elected officials who betray the public trust are the worst kind of law breakers. We expect the desperate, drug addicted and/or career criminals to do what they do. Politicians have no excuse. If Ryan wanted to live the life of a multimillionaire he should have retired from public life and put his considerable talents to use in the private sector.

Reader TM (via email):

To say the law should bend over backwards for a criminal just because he's elderly and has brought shame and misfortune to his family is beyond the pale. Ryan earned his punishment and deserves it. ... People go to prison for less heinous crimes than Ryan committed, and they never receive a commutation. It's time for this country to stop letting the "executive criminals" off the hook.

SteveL:

I feel worse for someone who sold crack in the 80s that is sitting in jail than someone who betrayed the public trust in committing white collar crimes. I do feel bad for his family, but, he knew that his "failings" would have consequences.

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