Former Gov. Ryan could be released from prison to halfway house soon

January 22, 2013 11:29:49 AM PST
Within the next few days, former Governor George Ryan could be released from prison and sent to a halfway house on Chicago's West Side.

Several other high profile convicts spent time there at the same halfway house.

George Ryan's formal release date from prison is July 4th of this year. But it's typical that six months out, inmates leave prison for a halfway house closer to their homes.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons will not comment on release plans for inmate 16627 - 424 but a number of sources believe Ryan's transfer is imminent and that his new home, however briefly he's there, will be a West Side halfway house.

"I've heard from enough people who've gone to see him, I think he's doing well," his former Chief of Staff Scott Fawell said. "Healthwise, he's doing fine."

Fawell, who also did prison time, finished his sentence at the Salvation Army's Freedom Center on the Near West Side. The center is a halfway house for federal inmates transitioning from prison to life on the outside.

"He'll have to meet with a counselor," Fawell said. "They'll instruct him about getting a job which I would assume he already has lined up."

It is unclear at this point whether Ryan's release plan would compel him to find work at age 79.

Former Cicero Mayor Betty Loren Maltese also transitioned through the Freedom center at the conclusion of her federal sentence.

"But in the beginning, anyone who goes there has to go through an orientation, not unlike when you first go to prison," she said.

She and Fawell were both only there for only a few weeks.

The same will likely be true for George Ryan before he's released to return to Kankakee on home confinement, according to Fawell.

During his time in prison, Ryan lost all his appeals, his state pension and his brother passed as did his wife of 55 years.

It's hard to say you cannot be bitter," Maltese said.

Those who've been there acknowledge that there are things you can control and things you cannot.

"He can't change the past. He can't change any of his actions. So he'll just have to be happy to know he's out and that he has years left," Maltese said.

"And hopefully he comes out and say you know what, I'm gonna go on and do the best I can, get back to making a livelihood, spend some time with my family and grandkids and is not bitter," Fawell said.

Well into his prison stay, George Ryan issued an apology for what he called "mistakes" he'd made in office.

That apology came through Ryan's long-time friend, and lawyer Jim Thompson who has told us via email that there are no plans for Ryan to make public comment after his release to the halfway house.

Whether that changes depends on how Ryan reads his future.