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George Ryan Discusses Willis Family, His Future

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Jay Levine Jay Levine
Jay Levine is the chief correspondent for CBS 2 Chicago. He joined...
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(CBS) – Eight years after his conviction on corruption charges, former Governor George Ryan is now completely free. His period of probation has ended and he no longer has any restrictions on his life.

That included a restriction on talking with reporters. On Wednesday afternoon, Ryan sat down for an interview with CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine.

“At 60-years-old, I didn’t think I would live to be 80 and if I did live I thought maybe I would be laying in a nursing home someplace. I’m now that I am 80, I feel like I am 60,” said Ryan.

Levine and Ryan sat on porch of the Kankakee home he returned to after his release from halfway house one year ago. Now free of any restrictions, Ryan is still strong, feisty and defiant.

“I am not sure that there is anything I really would have wanted to have changed. I don’t know of any real, major changes in anything I did in the nearly 40 years I was in public office,” said Ryan.

Ryan said he has come to grips with the fact that he was convicted, but that doesn’t mean he agrees with it.

“I have paid the price. I did it. I taped my mouth shut. It is over. I am looking to the future now.”

But he also talked openly about the crash with trucker who had suspect license and killed six members of the Willis family. Ryan said he doesn’t feel like he was responsible for the accident.

“It was a freak accident that happened,” said Ryan. “I have expressed my feelings with the Willis family. They’re deep-seated feelings that I have for them. It is done and over and I wish them the best.”

Ryan also believes his successor Rod Blagojevich got a raw deal.

“I Think he got a raw deal,” said Ryan. “14 years in that was a terrible call. I’m not a fan of Rod Blagojevich, but I think he got a raw deal.

He’s also looks at stalemates in the state capitol and Washington and says it’s not like it used to be.

“Everybody in government today is bitter about something, I’m not sure what. Nobody gets along or they can’t sit down work things out like they should. No reason for that other than it is just too political. It has gotta change.”

As for the future he’s not sure.

“I want to do some traveling. I am going to write a book, I am in the process of doing that. I’ll get a book out sometime in the future.”

Ryan also wants to continue to campaign against the death penalty.

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