Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan asks to leave prison to be with dying wife
January 6th, 2011
11:04 PM ET

Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan asks to leave prison to be with dying wife

Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan, who is serving 6 1/2-year sentence on racketeering and fraud convictions, filed an emergency request to leave federal prison so he can be with his dying wife.

Lura Lynn Ryan, 76, suffers from metastatic Stage IV carcinoma, an aggressive form of cancer that has attacked her lungs, back, pelvis, ribs and liver, according to an emergency motion for bail posted on the Chicago Sun-Times' website.

Her family was called to her bedside after she was admitted to intensive care Wednesday morning for septic shock, the motion says.

During her husband's incarceration, she has undergone radiation and chemotherapy "in the hope they will keep her alive until she can be with her husband to say good-bye," Ryan's lawyers say in the motion.

"She has, at most, weeks to live."

The disgraced ex-governor was convicted in April 2006 of fraud in a case stemming from bribes paid for various state licenses. The Supreme Court turned down his appeal in 2008.

The motion seeks Ryan's release from Indiana's Terre Haute federal prison through two avenues. One is through the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, where he has asked for an emergency release on bail. The other is through the Bail Reform Act, which allows for the temporary release of inmates in special circumstances.

In the second instance, he would be able to be with his wife during the day and stay overnight in Kankakee County Jail.

"Neither alternative would significantly impair any interest of the government," the motion states. "Maintaining Ryan's confinement, as it currently stands, on the other hands, inflicts irreparable injury on Ryan and his family."

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Filed under: Illinois • Justice
soundoff (344 Responses)
  1. MM

    Why should he get preferential treatment? Look how many people (adults and children) die while their spouse or parent was in jail. It is sad but this is the penalty for crime and he is not above the law.

    January 9, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mikka

    he should be punished not his wife dying without her husband.

    January 9, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • TB

      Why? Other inmates wouldn't get that opportunity.

      January 9, 2011 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |

    Eh. It's not like he is a violent criminal. This should be the rule of thumb for anyone in his place. This should be about her and not him. If having him with her is comforting then let it be.

    January 9, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Seth

    I really hope they let him be with his wife, for her sake as much as for his. What Ryan did was awful. He should serve every day of his sentence. But let him comfort his dying wife. And then, after the funeral, send him back to prison.

    January 9, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Susan

    Let's all stop for a minute and remember we are human beings. This man, although a criminal, didnt kill anyone, he is not a danger to society and he isnt asking to get out of jail for good. His wife is not the criminal and she deserves to die with some dignity and say goodbye to her husband. It wouldnt hurt anyone to give her that last wish.

    January 9, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • diamonp57

      I agree. What is harm. We need to start showing some compassion.

      January 9, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • mike lopez

      I disagree he has in fact killed plenty of people with his licences for bribes scandal. He gave those licenses out to people who paid and in fact a few of them killed other mortoist on the road so his hands are stained with the blood of the innocent. His situation is sad however if he would of flown straight in the first place he would be at his wifes side. He deserves his situation.

      January 9, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Rick in Idaho

    Would they have that compassion for you?

    January 9, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • J.Stewart

      You do what is right. Not whether someone else is right or wrong. At the end of the day when you go to bed, what do you tell your conscience?

      January 9, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Treva

      he would have NONE. Forget that turn the other cheeck nonsense. Think of it this way...would he ALLOW A Guy/girl put in jail and caught with an pound of weed to leave and be with their dying spouse?? NO! he would say rot in jail. well...the same to him

      January 18, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. hbockoven

    He is a non-violent offender. His wife is an innocent person coming to her end. Let them have the last moments together and then return him to finish his time. He is paying his debt, his wife is an innocent woman having to live without him.
    "Till death does us part"...Let him be there for her. That is the humanly thing to do. She should not be forced to finish her life without at least being able to spend some time with him.

    January 9, 2011 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Treva

      but her husband committed a crime. she can go to the jail to see him but no, he doesn't get a week off to visit her. The "man" broke them up

      January 18, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. wendy brooks

    how does he get to leave there are othere prisoners who have family member who had to die with out seeing there loved ones,so how is that,I dont care if her is a non violent criminal or not do it for one do it for all.

    January 9, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. wendy brooks

    Lets see if they let a brother out to go to his dead grandmother funeral......we will just see,not fair,not fair...I thought it was justice for ALL.

    January 9, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. TRY


    January 9, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kathryn

      Because the State did not want to have to pay the medical bills that would incur! That is the only reason! They can not deny medical treatment.

      January 12, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rider

      Saving a life is entirely different than one that is coming to an end.....How can you compare?
      Do you have a brain to contemplate this? Do you even know what that means?
      Seems typing in caps has caused loss of brain function.

      December 7, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  11. edward c. stengel

    We've been compassionate to George Ryan. The legal system allowed him every possible remedy. He's appealed everything from the verdict to the sentence. He appealed the loss of his pension, got part of it back, and then lost it all again when Lisa Madigan took the matter to the Illinois Supreme court. He's had $20 million worth of free legal services. He's been allowed to visit his ailing wife while she was in the hosptial. Now, it's time he stayed in prison until he finiishes his sentence, like everybody else.

    January 10, 2011 at 4:28 am | Report abuse |
  12. kd

    We didn't put him in prison, he did. If you do the crime you do the time. He should have thought about his family when he was commiting the crime.

    January 14, 2011 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
    • john

      amen...ryan is a thug and worse...he needs to suffer

      January 20, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  13. Justice4All

    He was a public official He was shown mercy on his sentance. Shame on him. LEAVE HIM THERE. Let him be an example of the Justice system. His wife traded a law abiding husband for a life of luxruy. Now shes getting what my mom callled just deserts. Not that i wish her ill but she knew what was up and had no scrupuls either.

    January 17, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. edward c. stengel

    Mr. Ryan is a man of low moral character. He is lacking in both integrity and virtue. In short, he is not a gentleman.. I dare say that he is somewhat of a scoundrel. This rather untwrustworty gentleman allowed corruption to flourish both as Secretary of State, from 1991-1999, and later as Governor, from 1999-2003. The FBI investigated him for over 10 years, the U.S. Attorney's office spent thousand of hours and millions of dollars preparing a case against him, the courts endured endless continuances, appeals, and complaints about everything they did, from the jury selection to the sentencing. Mr. Ryan has appealed everything from the sentencing to the verdict, he has appealed the loss of his pension, his wife has called Barbara Bush asking her to ask her son George to pardon or commute his sentence while he was President, he has had democratic majority whip Dick Durbin ask both George Bush and later Barack Obama for a commutation of sentence or pardon. He has had his attorneys, who provided him with $20 million of free legal services to file endless motions for all kinds of special benefits, from home confinement to furloughs. His free chief counsel, James R. Thompson, former U.S attorney and former Illinois governor, has called both the bureau of prisons in Washington, D.C. and the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana begging for a long term furlough for his client, so that he could stay with his wife during the day in the hospital and spend his evenings in the Kankakee county jail. All these attempts to give special treatment to Mr. Ryan have failed. Now, Mr. Thompson will use the last remedy available and ask President Obama to commmute his sentence to time served. This time he won't depend on Dick Durbin. I only hope that Obama doesn't betray the justice system and let this dishonorable gentleman out of prison. It would be a slap in the face to all those, from the FBI, the U.S. attorneys, the judges, the jurors, the Bureau of Prisons, the warden at Terre Haute, Indiana, and everybody else who worked so honorably and diligently in the cause of justice in this case. I want this scoundrel to do every single second of his 6 1/2 year prison sentence.

    January 18, 2011 at 4:23 am | Report abuse |
  15. Jeff

    Too bad for his wife, but i say let him rot in jail, scoundrel!

    January 20, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
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