Ryan’s sentence protects rest from corruption

Jerry Moore

In a recent newspaper commentary, one former Illinois governor decried the senselessness of sending another to prison.

Dan Walker served as governor from 1973 to 1977. A decade later, he was convicted of bank fraud (unrelated to his time in office) and served an 18-month term.

George Ryan was ordered last week to report to prison to serve his 6 1/2-year sentence. In the Oct. 26 edition of the Chicago Tribune, Walker wrote:

“I have grave doubts that any societal purpose is served by Ryan spending even six years at that place. He is in his 70s, not in the best of health, is totally disgraced, lost most of his pensions, probably near bankruptcy, and realizing that whatever good he did in his years of public service is now wiped from people’s memories. ... For God’s sake, let him spend his remaining years quietly with his family.”

It’s comforting to imagine an elderly man spending what time he has left on Earth with his family. But if Walker wonders what societal purpose is served by sending Ryan to prison, it’s this: justice.

Ryan grossly abused the trust that the people of Illinois placed in him and corrupted the secretary of state’s office. Many people have paid dearly for this corruption — the six Willis children with their lives in 1994, and their parents who will never get to spend time with them again.

People must be protected from elected officials who turn their government against them. It’s time for Ryan to be subjected to the laws he failed to uphold.