CHICAGO — One of the reasons Judge James Zagel handed down a harsh 14-year prison sentence to Rod Blagojevich was because his predecessor in the Illinois governor’s mansion also went to prison.
Blagojevich campaigned on a promise to clean-up corruption in Illinois following the licenses-for-bribes scandal.
“He cut me up pretty good,” former Gov. George Ryan recalled in a phone interview Wednesday with WGN. “That’s okay, it’s over. It’s past and it’s a new chapter in both of our lives and we ought to just move ahead with it.”
Ryan called President Trump’s decision to commute Blagojevich’s sentence after serving a little under 8 years “probably the fair thing to do” and added: “I don’t know that another 5 or 6 years would have made any kind of difference in what he is going to do or isn’t going to do… so it relieves the taxpayers of taking care of him for another 5 or 6 years.”
Ryan made international headlines when he instituted a moratorium on the death penalty in Illinois in 2000 that continues to this day. His decision was influenced by a series of exonerations including 13 people who were released from prison after appeals based on new evidence. The former governor is planning to publish a book on the death penalty in the coming months.
Ryan credited Blagojevich’s wife Patti with mounting a successful media campaign aimed at attracting President Trump’s attention and earning her husband’s release.
“The family is back together and that’s what’s important,” Ryan said.