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Obama Avoiding Ryan Commutation Debate

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President-elect Barack Obama is staying away from the debate about whether former Illinois Governor George Ryan should be freed from prison. Ryan is serving a 6-and-a-half year sentence after being convicted on federal corruption charges.

George Ryan’s lawyers last week asked President Bush to commute the former governor’s sentence. But they shouldn’t expect help from the president elect. An Obama transition aide e-mailed a one-sentence statement on the issue this afternoon.

“As the incoming President,” the aide wrote, Obama “doesn’t feel it appropriate to involve himself in pardon and commutation decisions at this time.”

Obama’s former colleague in the Senate, Dick Durbin, generated some buzz for saying Ryan should be freed from prison. The senator sent a letter to President Bush this week with that message. But Durbin told reporters he won’t make that same request of Obama once he takes office.

I’m Sam Hudzik, Chicago Public Radio.

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