No pardon, Mr. President

I’ve never written an email or letter to the President of the United States before, and maybe this is an odd issue to start with.  But I just emailed George W. Bush asking that he not pardon George Ryan, the former governor of Illinois, who was sentenced to six years in prison for corruption while he was Illinois Secretary of State (prior to becoming governor.)

Those of you who don’t live in Illinois may not know who George Ryan is, or what all the fuss is about.  If you want the full story, John Kass does an excellent job of recapping it in today’s Tribune:,0,7962327.column. In short, Ryan’s office took bribes from unqualified truck drivers in exchange for driver’s licenses.  One of these drivers cause an accident which killed six children from one family.  Ryan’s crime was that he squelched the investigation into wrongdoing in his office (It has not been proven that he actually knew about the bribes beforehand, just that he covered up the investigation.) He received a sentence of six years.  He’s now served one year of his sentence, and Dick Durbin (our OTHER senator) has asked George W. Bush to pardon him before Bush leaves office.

I’m not sure why I am so incensed by this issue.  I think it’s because there’s so little opportunity for justice in this world, and the citizens of Illinois felt like justice was finally served in this case.  He had the best legal defense team money can buy, had a fair trial, was found guilty by a jury of his peers, and received a sentence of six years in prison.  Just like it’s supposed to work.  In my opinion, pardoning him would turn that justice into an injustice.

Is Ryan carrying on his back the sins of many other politicians who never got what was coming to them?  Probably.  There’s a whole long list of corrupt officials throughout Illinois history, including the current governor, Rod Blagojevich, whose indictment, according to news reports, will probably be handed down soon.  There was a sense among the citizens that someone from that long list was going to have to pay for what they did.

I’m not a spiteful person, and I don’t hate George Ryan. I think he did some good things as governor. And only God knows what’s in his heart.  I just want him to pay his debt to society, just as I want other convicted criminals to pay theirs.  I want him not to get special treatment because of the office he held, or the friends he had.

Kass’ column includes the president’s email address, if you agree with me, and are inclined to send an email asking that President Bush not pardon George Ryan.

Thanks for letting me vent.


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