*** UPDATE 1 *** Tribune…
Former Gov. George Ryan has already been released from the halfway house on Chicago’s West Side and will be confined at his Kankakee home until he completes his 6 ½-year sentence, according to his lawyer, former Gov. Jim Thompson.
Thompson said Ryan found out about the decision by the Bureau of Prison early this morning as he was being released from a federal prison camp in Terre Haute, Ind.
Ryan will not have to wear electronic monitors while under house arrest at his home, said Thompson, who wasn’t sure if Ryan, soon to be 79, would work.
Bureau of Prison spokesman Chris Burke said today Ryan did not receive special treatment in order to be released to home confinement.
Speaking from Ryan’s living room, his attorney Jim Thompson said Ryan was beaming and surrounded by his smiling grandchildren
“If you could see his and his grandkids’ smiling faces,” Thompson, himself a former governor, said by phone from Ryan’s home. “He is surrounded by happy faces.”
Ed Ross, a spokesman with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons in Washington D.C., said such quick a release, though, is not uncommon.
Ross said it was “very common” for elderly inmates to spend just a few hours in a halfway house. While at his home in Kankakee, Ryan will not be allowed to leave home during non-working hours and will remain “under the strict supervision of the Bureau of Prisons,” Ross said.
“The whole point of community corrections is to transition the individual back into their community. Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis as to how much halfway house time … an individual needs,” Ross said.
*** UPDATE 2 *** Monique Garcia…
[ *** End Of Updates *** ]
* Former Gov. George Ryan checked into a Chicago halfway house this morning after being released from federal prison. NBC5 has video…
View more videos at: http://nbcchicago.com.
* Former Gov. Jim Thompson was also there and talked to the media…
Former Gov. Jim Thompson said his friend George Ryan “paid a severe price” when he was convicted and imprisoned. “The loss of his wife and brother while he was in the penitentiary, the loss of his pension, his office, his good name. That is a significant punishment.”
View more videos at: http://nbcchicago.com.
Ryan smiled tightly as he refused to answer questions from reporters. Ryan’s son, George Ryan Jr. and former Gov. Jim Thompson accompanied Ryan into the house.
After Ryan checked in, Thompson came back out and told reporters “today is another step in a long journey for George Ryan. . .He would like me to tell you he’s grateful to leave the penitentiary. He’s grateful also for the encouragement and support from many people. He has paid a severe price. The loss of his wife and brother while he was in the penitentiary, the loss of his pension, his office, his good name and 5 1/2 years of imprisonment. Now near 80 years old, that is a significant punishment. But he is going to go forward.”
Ryan left the prison early this morning and managed to escape the notice of media camped at the facility. The first indication that Ryan has been released was around 6:45 a.m. when he left a building down the street and started walking toward the halfway house.
His son put his left hand on his father and guided him out the door. Ryan kept his head down, his hands in his pockets as he talked to his son and walked slowly through the knot of TV cameras.
A visit to the dentist will be one of the first orders of business for Ryan now that he is at the halfway house in Chicago.
After orientation, Ryan will then be assigned a room in the 210-bed “Freedom Center.”
“What does George Ryan have to go back to a halfway house for at 79 years old?” said former Chicago city clerk Jim Laski. “What are they gonna tell him?”
The mission of halfway house is to help inmates get their feet planted back in society with a job of some sort.
Laski, who did six months of his sentence at the “Freedom Center,” found it to be a process burdened by bureaucracy.
“It’s like going through high school with some goofy orientation program,” said Laski. “It was really a waste of time.”
Still, the ex-governor must follow Federal Bureau of Prisons directives, although his stay at the halfway house likely be a matter of weeks instead of months.
Meanwhile, Ryan’s halfway house release begins a new era for the Kankakee native. He’s expected to stay for a maximum of six months at the same Salvation Army where dozens of onetime politicos from Illinois made their transition back to freedom. They included former City Clerk James Laski and Cicero Town President Betty Loren-Maltese.
Loren-Maltese didn’t sugarcoat her stay at the same venue.
“I was cleaning the bathrooms,” she said. “I thought it was horrible there — it reminded me of the high-security prison because of being locked in all the time.”
Laski, who pleaded guilty in 2006 to taking $48,000 in bribes, has few good memories of the place — an environment he called “dingy, cold and dark.”
“It’s not the most friendly place,” Laski told the Chicago Sun-Times on Tuesday.
Laski, who went to the South Ashland facility in mid-2007 from a dormitory-type prison in West Virginia, described the buffet-style food as “fair to middling,” but a slight improvement over prison grub.
Laski recalled his first day at the halfway house, when he was required to introduce himself to various staff members and gather a signature from each of them.
“You run around like a little kid, getting signatures. . . . It’s silly,” said Laski, who lives on the Southwest Side and runs a consulting business with offices in Chicago and Miami.
* Timeline Of George Ryan Case