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Debate Over Ryan Commutation Heats Up

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Debate Over Ryan Commutation Heats Up

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

DuPage County State’s Attorney Joe Birkett says former Governor George Ryan should stay in prison. But Ryan’s lawyer, former Governor Jim Thompson, continues to plead for mercy.

Jim Thompson says Ryan’s already paid a big price for his crimes.

THOMPSON: He’s spent over a year in the penitentiary. He’s 74 years old. He’s in ill health. His wife is 74. She’s in ill health. She’s all alone. They’re penniless.

But DuPage County State’s Attorney Joe Birkett says Ryan needs to finish out his 6-and-a-half year sentence. He says he feels for Ryan’s wife, but...

BIRKETT: He is the one who inflicted this pain on [his wife]. Not the taxpayers, not the prosecutors, not the investigators. George Ryan did this to his own family.

Birkett says he doesn’t oppose clemency in all situations, but he says politicians need to know there’s a consequence for corruption. He sent a letter to President Bush yesterday expressing his opposition to freeing Ryan early.

I’m Sam Hudzik, Chicago Public Radio.

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