Lura Lynn Ryan On Judge’s Ruling & Her Beloved Husband

UPDATED 12/22/10 5:18 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – Lura Lynn Ryan is dealing with the news that her husband, George Ryan, will not be getting out of prison anytime soon.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer denied the former governor’s early release. His lawyers pleaded with the judge, citing Lura Lynn’s terminal cancer.

Ryan has served just three years of his 6 1/2 year sentence for corruption.

Ryan will have to settle with making his daily calls to his wife from a Terre Haute federal prison.

CBS 2’s Bill Kurtis sat down with Lura Lynn Ryan shortly after the ruling was handed down.

It was a sad day for the Ryan family for two reasons. The former governor, George, was denied release from prison, and his wife Lura Lynn received an official report that her cancer has spread to many parts of her body. Her prognosis is three to six months.

On the judge’s ruling, Lura Lynn said: “I was saddened by it. I really thought that she would understand that I have a short time to live. But evidently she doesn’t see it, I guess, because I would think if she knew what the situation was she would certainly say I’ll bring him home. George is not a bad man.”

Lura Lynn says she spoke to George after the ruling.

“I got to tell you, he is the strongest man; I can’t tell you. I was very strong and I have been through the whole thing,” she said. “I have great faith in the Lord, and I said evidently he hasn’t been listening lately, but pretty soon I’m going to start knocking on his door a little harder. And he said, you just do that and I’m doing the same thing. And we will get through this. And we will.”

The tubes in Lura Lynn’s nose, the scarf on her head and the quiver in her voice all seemed to fit with the prognosis of doctors that she has less than six months to live. But her words showed an inner confidence that she can beat the odds and stay around a bit longer.

“I don’t think when the doctor said three months. I think they give you a certain length but that’s not your deadline. I really don’t believe that,” she said. “I think I can hang on.”

The bad news hit the family hard, too. Son, George Homer Ryan Jr. expressed their views.

“My mom just learned of her fate, and the judges decided to look the other way on that,” he said. “To me, the justice system is flawed, and this is a case where mercy is deserved. My dad’s served over three years. He’s lost everything. Our family suffers. Just like many other families do with cancer, ours is much more public because of history. We’re just pleading that the public see that. And it’s Christmas time. It’s time for mercy.”

When asked what she would say to her husband if he were watching, Lura Lynn said, “I would say that I love him and miss him with all my heart, and I want him to please come home soon. I know he would love to be here with me, and one day we will be back together the way we should be. And live a happy, normal life together, I’m hoping.”

She expressed hope that the efforts to release her husband would succeed in the end.

“I am hoping that we will finally win a challenge, and i’m also hoping that when he does come home, he will be able to go on working with the underprivileged and people that need the help,” she said.

She had heartfelt words for her imprisoned husband.

“I love him and miss him with all my heart, and I want him to please come home soon, and I know that he would love to be here with me,” she said, “and one day we will be back together the way we should be.”

Lura Lynn and George Ryan have been in the headlines most of their lives, but tonight they were just a couple: stripped of everything, except each other.

For more on Bill Kurtis’ interview with Lura Lynn Ryan, click the video below.

For more with George Homer Ryan Jr. and Attorney Andrea Lyon, click the video below.

  • Pete

    I do not want to be insensitive to the Ryans, but would other federal inmates be released because a spouse has terminal cancer? It seems like a very humane thing to do, but why do it for high-profile cases if it is not done for every normal person/ Of course normal people do not have high powered lawyers arguing for them.

    That said our criminal justice system needs more heart.

    • Roberta Waker

      Of course, other federal criminals with a spouse dying should be given a furlough to be with their families, provided they are not a flight risk. George has served three years and he deserves to be with Lura Lynn when she needs him the most. This is Christmas and it IS time for mercy. I hope the Judge’s heart can soften enough for them to be together for what little time she has left. Then she can put him back in prison. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone for we have ALL sinned.

      • Average Guy

        “better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer”

  • Helen Prosperi

    George Ryan did not personally kill anyone and he is not being held in a
    normal penitentiary. While I was all for his being imprisoned I feel that the
    judge is not punishing George Ryan at this point but rather is punishing his
    wife. Perhaps they should allow Mrs. Ryan to live with him in his confinement
    so at least Mrs. Ryan would be with him at the end.

    • lisaannjarrett

      but he DID kill somebody….. tore a family into pieces because of his arrogance and selfishness, so yes, he’s where he belongs…. IN JAIL.

  • Anonymous Illinois Resident

    I feel bad for his family. But, I do agree the judge made the right decision. She can’t just be releasing inmates because a loved one it dying. Sadly for his family, his actions created this situation, and it is horrible that she may not live long enough to see him released. But the judge did a wonderful job at upholding the our laws.

    And Thank You Walter J for your comments. So many of us Illinois residents feel the same that you do. We feel for his family, but releasing him early would have sent the wrong message. He committed crimes, was found guilty and needs to complete his full sentence.

    • Roberta Waker

      Who said he needs to be released? Why not just grant him a furlough and when his wife dies, send him back to serve the rest of his term. We can do THAT much for any criminal that hasn’t killed someone, raped, or is a pedophile or flight risk. We are humane enough to bleed for ILLEGALS who are bankrupting this country, so why not bleed for one of our own?

  • DM

    Helen, Good idea. Send her to live with him in his country club, errr prison suite. Sounds fair to me if they want to live out her final days together. If the judgement is punishing his family, that’s fine with me. George Ryan did this to his family, not the judge.

  • JVC

    I am sorry for Mrs. Ryan and I am sorry for the Ryan family. But the Ryans are hardly the only family living with sadness. If Ryan were some nobody from the getto, would we even be having this discussion? But apparently, Ryan and his attorney think that he is above the law because he was a politician and should get a pass and not have to serve his sentence. They have shamelessy pulled every political string imaginable to get him off the hook. He had a fair trial, he was found guilty and sentenced. Now he is just like every other inmate and should be treated like every inmate in his country club prison.. If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.

    • Roberta Waker

      If he was a nobody from the ghetto he probably wouldn’t even be in prison. A lot of criminals don’t even see prison because of plea bargaining. Look at the 12 year old who tried to kill the woman with a brick – him and his buddy are on probation. Now, there’s someone who SHOULD be in jail.

  • Vee

    “country club prison.” WOW. I cannot imagine the prison is anything close to that. Some people are truly delusional and just plain mean.

  • Bill

    Nobody mentioned the 6 Willis children. Doesn anybody remember them?

    • Roberta Waker

      Yes, we do. The Willis family has forgiven George Ryan so why can’t we? Will keeping him in prison bring them back? Something good and positive needs to come from this. His wife needs him and we have the power to grant what may be her last wish. Don’t we have any compassion left in this country? You have NEVER made a mistake that hurt someone?

      • liz

        It is not up to you or me to forgive Ryan, it is up to poor parents who lost 6 kids, whole life.

      • Jen Zak

        Wow Roberta, let’s get rid of our judicial system and just beg the family of the murdered for forgiveness. Ryan was judged by a group of his peers in a court of law and found guilty. He has never shown an ounce of remorse for his crimes.

  • Sandy C

    Too bad George Ryan appealed for so many years, he would probably been home by now if he just pleaded guilty in the first place!

  • lifelongchicagoan

    I say give every other convict’s sick mother, dad, brother and sister their 5 minutes of media time too!

    It’s Ryan’s fault and nobody elses……enough already!

  • streamwood bill

    “It was a sad day for the Ryan family for two reasons….” I AM SICK OF THIS RYAN FAMILY CRYING. THE POOR WILLIS FAMILY HAS HAD A SAD DAY FOR MANY MANY YEARS. Keep crying Ryans, but this judge did the right thing. Governor Thompson, you are a piece of _ _ _ _ for doing the devil’s work !

  • Jim

    The Judge here did the right thing here. I feel bad that she married a criminal and has to face the situation without her spouse, but George is where he belongs!

  • southside

    Thank you, Judge Pallmeyer. As an Illinois taxpayer, I have paid the price for George Ryan’s corruption. Do the time, George. Make room for Blago. I do believe that our prisons have visiting hours. If the family can get to court, they can get to the prison.

  • Rae

    I’m sorry for Mrs. Ryan, but her husband deserves to be where he is. How many elderly wives are suffering because of his greed? How many children/husbands/grandparents/working people? The problem with our justice system is that rich criminals like Ryan get to have their ill loved ones go on the news and play victim on their behalf. I’m also ticked off that Jesse “the Smarmy” Jackson asked for clemency for Ryan. That slime will do anything to get on TV. Did you see him sitting up front at Ron Santo’s funeral? He couldn’t have been more bored, but he wanted the attention. He took the place of a normal person who would have loved to pay tribute to #10. What an opportunistic creep.

  • Grayslake Bob

    Continuing to demonstrate how morally bankrupt he is, Ryan now tries to use his wife’s terminal illness as a ticket to freedom. They lived an easy life due to his ill gotten gains, and they deserve to have “lost everything.” He has shown no remorse, and he does not deserve to be set free. Too bad for Lura, but she has plenty of support from other family members. The judge was right.

  • Mar

    Bob Collins of WGN Radio, once said, “Now there’s a man who really wants to be governor.”
    Ryan used his position as Secretary of State to attain that goal. He may not have forseen the harm that could be done, but harm was done, and he did not
    apologize in any way at all. As far as he and his family are concerned, it was
    just politics.

    Pastor and Mrs Scott live every day without their children. Ryan could have at least privately spoken to them.

    Bill, I see your coverage as an attempt to change the outcome.
    How about covering others who have been held in IL jails for months or years, simply because they have no relative with enough money for bail, or access to any lawyer other than grossly overworked appointed attorneys?

  • FR

    First of all the accident that killed the willis children was caused by the back bumper bar of a truck falling off. I don’t think the truck driver had anything to do with it. The judge was unfair when she threw out the juror who was voting not guilty.

  • Franta

    Wah wah wah, you did the time Georgie boy now you do the time. And dying or not his wife is no innocent either. She has suerly lived of the gains her crooked hubby got!
    And let us not all forget how the jerk freed all those on death row to make a show to dstract from all his corruption!

  • streamwood bill

    regardless of how anybody feels, the people of this state are fed up with politicians getting special favors again and again and again. releasing this creep from jail will be perceived as another politician that is getting away with his crimes. Ryan should stay put !

  • chuckie

    George Ryan should have gotten 20+ years for his actions. He is a crook- thanks for keeping him in prison.

  • George Ryan’s Wife Hospitalized In Intensive Care « CBS Chicago – Breaking News, Sports, Weather, Traffic, and the Best of Chicago

    […] Lura Lynn fought intense pain and struggled for every breath as she talked to CBS 2’s Bill Kurtis …. […]

  • Lura Lynn Ryan May Have Hours To Live « CBS Chicago – Breaking News, Sports, Weather, Traffic, and the Best of Chicago

    […] Lura Lynn fought intense pain and struggled for every breath as she talked to CBS 2’s Bill Kurtis …. […]

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