After serving his prison sentence and required probation, former governor and convicted felon George Ryan is finally free from the bureau of prisons – and free to talk.
George Ryan shed 40 or so pounds at the minimum security prison camp where he served out a fair amount of his golden years in the care of the bureau of prisons and away from his beloved wife Lura Lynn. Ryan says he did whatever he could to busy himself as time dragged on.
“It was an interesting trip,” he said. “One I could live without. I don't want to go through again. I learned a lot."
He learned the bureau of prisons is a broken system, he says and inefficient. He also learned he wants to press on with his more recent life's mission of working to abolish the death penalty.
"The US is in bad company in the international world when it comes to the death penalty and we don't need the death penalty. We ought to get rid of it,” he said.
At 80, George Ryan wants to go on the speakers' circuit again and plans to focus on his book, a memoire of sorts, which will be filled with stories about his 40 years in Republican politics and maybe even include his stint in prison.
As for the Willis family and six children who died during the Secretary of State license for bribes scandal-an office Ryan ran during those days - he said he prays for them every day.
His health is good, he claims. And he tries to look forward, not back.
“When I was 60, I didn’t think I would ever make 80 and if I did, I'd be in a nursing home with tubes sticking out of me. Now that I'm 80, I feel like I'm 60 - without tubes."