AG Joins Anti-Ryan Release Club

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan says the deaths of six children from one family are reason enough for former Gov. George Ryan's 6 ½-year racketeering sentence not to be commuted.

Ryan has served one year of his 6 ½-year sentence and has asked President Bush to commute the remainder.

Sen. Dick Durbin said Monday that he was willing to face "overwhelmingly negative" public outcry and push for Ryan's early release from prison because of the plea of one woman: Ryan's wife Lura Lynn.

Madigan reminded reporters Thursday that the bribery scandal involving Ryan's tenure as secretary of state led to the deaths.

Among other things, Ryan was convicted of killing an investigation of bribes paid for truck driver's licenses.

In November 1994 a part fell off a truck belonging to a driver with an illegal Illinois license. The part hit the gas tank of a van that exploded, killing six children in the Willis family.

Ryan has repeatedly said the Willis tragedy wasn't his fault.

President-elect Barack Obama said Wednesday that he doesn't have an opinion on on the request.

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

Gov. Rod Blagojevich disagrees, saying commuting Ryan would show compassion for man who has already paid a "significant price."

Poll: Most Oppose Commutation

Two-thirds of adults in Illinois -- 66 percent -- are opposed to a presidential pardon for former Governor George Ryan, according to a new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey in the state.

Just 23 percent say Ryan, the Republican convicted on federal corruption charges in 2006, should be pardoned. Eleven percent are undecided.

Twenty-eight percent of men favor a pardon for Ryan, compared to 19 percent of women. Seventy percent of whites oppose a pardon, compared to 22 percent who support it. Blacks are closely divided, with those opposed to a pardon having just a four-point edge.

Members of Ryan’s own political party are more unforgiving than his former political opponents. Sixty-seven percent of Republicans oppose a pardon versus 59 percent of Democrats. Twenty-six percent of both parties favor pardoning Ryan. Among those unaffiliated with either major political party, just 15 percent support a pardon, while 77 percent oppose one.

Opposition to a pardon generally rises with income level.

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