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.