Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Senator Durbin asks President Bush to give Ryan Clemency

Its a rare case when I agree with the op-ed page of any newspaper, but today's Daily Herald editorial castigating Senator Dick Durbin for asking President Bush for clemency for former Governor George Ryan is just plan foolish. Ryan is a crook and deserves one thing...what he got... which is a prison sentence. I understand the compassion aspect, but is the Senator asking for clemency for every convict who is over 70 and has an ailing spouse, or just the ones who have won some big elections? If the Willis family, the ones who suffered the most from Ryans crimes want him in jail, that's where he should stay!

Durbin wrong to seek Ryan clemency

Daily Herald-- Two weeks ago, Sen. Dick Durbin, Illinois' senior senator, said he will recommend another term for Chicago's federal prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald. And we thought that made a lot of sense.

After all, Fitzgerald's office has aggressively and successfully prosecuted state and city officials for corruption. Didn't matter if they were Republicans or Democrats. Old or young. Corruption is corruption. And in Illinois, it was time somebody stepped up and said enough.

Apparently, though, Durbin is feeling a little sentimental right now about the highest-profile person Fitzgerald's office sent to prison. And Durbin's hoping President Bush will remember he once was considered a "compassionate conservative" when he determines whom he pardons or grants clemency to before he leaves office in January.

"Justice is a sword that should be tempered with compassion," Durbin wrote to Bush in asking that former Gov. George Ryan's 6 1/2-year sentence for racketeering, fraud, lying to investigators and tax charges be commuted to time served (a little more than year).

"This action would not pardon him or remove the record of his conviction, but it would allow him to return to his wife and family for their remaining years," Durbin wrote.

We feel some compassion for former Illinois first lady Lura Lynn Ryan, who is reportedly in ill health. But her husband abused the trust of the people who elected him and he must serve the time a judge felt was appropriate for those crimes.

Fitzgerald's lieutenants are adamant in opposing clemency for Ryan and we agree with their thoughts as reported last week.

"Gov. Ryan was convicted of serious felonies after a six-month trial," a joint statement by his prosecutors said. "The evidence revealed a pattern of corrupt conduct over a period of many years by Ryan... His conduct had adverse tangible consequences to the public safety and welfare of its citizens."

A juror on the case, Kevin Rein, wrote a letter to the Chicago Sun-Times chiding Durbin for thinking about taking this action. He rightly states that Ryan did the damage to himself.

All who oppose clemency also rightly point out that Ryan has never taken responsibility for his actions.

In fact, Ryan said he had a "clear conscience" when entering prison in November 2007.

That's a key point. George Ryan never thought he'd be caught. Never thought he'd be convicted. Never thought he'd go to prison. And now he is playing the sympathy card. And Durbin and Gov. Rod Blagojevich and former Gov. Jim Thompson all have been sucked into the cause. We urge President Bush not to join in the pity party.

George Ryan wants to spend time with his family. We think he should continue to reflect in prison on the fact that a bribery scandal in the secretary of state's office he led resulted in the deaths of the six children of Rev. Scott and Janet Willis.

Our sympathies lie with them.

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