Obama: Opinion on Ryan Fate ‘Inappropriate'

President-elect not weighing in on commutation

Add president-elect Barack Obama to the growing list of politicians across Illinois issuing statements this week about former George Ryan being released from federal prison.

He doesn't have an opinion.

“As the incoming President, he doesn't feel it appropriate to involve himself in pardon and commutation decisions at this time," said Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt.

This week, Illinois Congressman Mark Kirk, state GOP chairman Andy McKenna and former lead prosecutor on the Ryan case Patrick Collins all spoke out  against the former governor being released.

The strong reaction was in response to U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin asking the president to commute the Ryan's corruption sentence.

In a letter, Durbin asked President George W. Bush to "consider commuting the sentence of George Ryan to time served."

"For those who would argue that a commutation makes light of his crimes, it is clear that he has already paid a signifigant price and will continue to do so as long as he lives," Durbin said.  "Justice is a sword that should be tempered with compassion. Further imprisonment will not, in my opinion, serve the ends of justice."

Ryan has served one year of a 6½-year sentence for racketeering, fraud and other offenses.

Durbin said the former governor has paid a price for his crimes by losing his government pension, having his family name ruined and being separated from his frail wife.

Both Ryan and his wife are 74 years old.

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