Originally Posted Online: Jan. 30, 2013, 8:04 pm
Last Updated: Jan. 30, 2013, 10:37 pm

Homecoming reunites Ryan with family

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By Lee Provost, Daily Journal, Kankakee

Photo:
Former Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson, attorney for former Gov. George Ryan, talks to the media with family members watching from Ryan's front porch in Kankakee on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, where the 78-year-old Ryan will be under home confinement following his release from prison. Ryan was released from a federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., on Wednesday after serving more than five years for corruption. But in a move that took many by surprise, he was allowed to travel to his Kankakee home shortly after arriving at a halfway house in Chicago. (The Daily Journal, Kankakee, Scott Anderson)

"He's at home."

This three-word sentence from George "Homer" Ryan Jr., son of former Illinois Gov. George Ryan, did not capture the joy that must have been felt by the family shortly after the elder Ryan returned to his two-story, red-brick Kankakee home on Wednesday morning.

Ryan had not been at his home since he departed for prison in November 2007.

Ryan surprisingly was sent to his South Greenwood Avenue residence only several minutes after checking into a Chicago halfway house early Wednesday morning. He left a Terre Haute, Ind., federal prison earlier in the day after qualifying for an early release program.

He arrived home at about 10:30 a.m.

Former Gov. Jim Thompson, who serves as Ryan's attorney, said during a telephone interview late Wednesday morning that Ryan was surrounded by his 17 children and grandchildren.

"I'm sure he was thrilled," Thompson said. "I'm looking at him right now, and he's surrounded by his kids and grandkids."

Thompson said the Federal Bureau of Prisons did not say why they were releasing him to his residence to finish his sentence, but Thompson speculated on why the decision was made.

"I suspect it's due to his age and many of the services at a halfway house simply are not relevant to him. He doesn't need a class" for learning basic skills such as reading, writing and resume preparation, Thompson said.

Being returned home doesn't mean Ryan is free to come and go as he pleases, even though he has not been fitted with an electronic monitoring device.

For example, Thompson said, Ryan would need written permission from the halfway house to attend a dentist or doctor's appointment. Without permission, he's not allowed to leave his home. Thompson said Ryan is not allowed to even walk around his front yard.

Weekend outings are a little more relaxed but not by much. Thompson said Ryan can be away from home for up to six hours on weekends, but those outings only can be to public places.

He also must have proof as to where he was, Thompson said, such as receipts.

At a news conference in the front yard of Ryan's home, Thompson said there almost was no point to have Ryan take up space at a halfway house when someone else could make much more use of it.

But Thompson made it clear this release was not something Ryan asked for nor did he.

"At least he's close to his family," he said.

Asked if a family member, many of whom were gathered on the front porch during the news conference, could speak to the media, Thompson said no. Asked if Gov. Ryan could come to the front door for a photo opportunity, he again said that would not be happening.

Thompson then concluded the event. "Go home and get off the lawn," he joked.

Earlier Wednesday, Thompson said Ryan is not allowed to talk to the press until his sentence is complete in July.

Ryan's conviction was based on a variety of corruption charges including racketeering, conspiracy, tax fraud and making false statements to the FBI.




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