“It’s all baby steps and this is a pretty big step where you haven’t been able to leave the premises, and haven’t had freedom in years,” he said. “You get a lot of things that are pretty basic to most people.”
Laski, who spent time at the same halfway house, said Ryan will spend a lot of time complying with rules, filling out forms and getting the signatures from one authority after another.
“It’s boring and a waste of time,” he complained, saying halfway houses are primarily designed for convicted felons with no place to go to.
Ryan will be allowed to leave for church services and eventually will get to move back to his spacious home in Kankakee, about 60 miles southwest of Chicago.
Ryan’s exit from prison doesn’t mean there will no longer be a former Illinois governor behind bars.
His successor, Democrat Rod Blagojevich, is serving a 14-year prison sentence on corruption charges, including allegations that he sought to sell President Barack Obama’s vacated U.S. Senate seat.
Blagojevich’s corruption, by comparison, were crimes especially outrageous — corruption “on steroids,” said David Morrison of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform
“His penalty is also on steroids,” he said about Blagojevich’s sentence and the pointed message it sent to would-be corrupt leaders.
As a direct result of Ryan’s misdeeds, a number of ethical safeguards were shored up, including independently-confirmed inspectors generals for each constitutional officer, and cracking down on political work on state time.
Cindi Canary, the former head of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, said there are signs Illinois residents’ confidence in politicians is rebounding.
“Public trust really started to falter under Ryan, then it imploded and sunk under Blagojevich,” she said.
Morrison says that, overall, the mechanism for catching corrupt Illinois politicians has improved since Ryan.
“Ryan and Blagojevich came of age in a culture that tolerated a fair amount of rule-bending,” Morrison said. “Everyone has to know now that you can’t bend the rules.”