Former Gov. Ryan to talk about life in prison in suburban speech

  • Gov. George Ryan is set to talk about his term in federal prison during a speech in Waukegan this week.

    Gov. George Ryan is set to talk about his term in federal prison during a speech in Waukegan this week. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

Updated 10/8/2015 8:55 AM

Former Gov. George Ryan is set to deliver a rare public speech in Waukegan Friday about life in federal prison and how he was treated by people once he was let out, organizers say.

The luncheon address will be to the local Coalition to Reduce Recidivism, a Waukegan Township group that wants to help people released from prison avoid going back.


Part of that is learning how to cope with the stigma attached to former inmates, and organizer Kim Woods says the former governor knows a thing or two about that.

"I know a lot of people are interested in that because we don't hear a lot from him," Woods said.

"He can tell us what his experience has been," she said.

Ryan, a Kankakee Republican who served as governor from 1999 to 2003, hasn't made many public appearances since being released from federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., in 2013 following his conviction on corruption charges.

He famously has taken a special interest in the criminal justice system, clearing death row as governor and putting a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, a move that earned him Nobel Peace Prize nominations.

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Not nice

Woods said she simply contacted Ryan to arrange for the speech.

The former governor did call her recently, she said, to ask about the public nature of the luncheon -- specifically, whether reporters were invited.

"Well, they haven't been too nice to me," Woods recalled Ryan saying.

He didn't respond to a phone a message seeking comment.

What to know

Ryan's keynote address will be held at noon at Milan Banquet Hall in Waukegan.

Tickets are $50 and available at Woods says the money supports the Coalition to Reduce Recidivism.

The 'body woman's' start

A story from The Associated Press this week profiled Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina's so-called "body woman," or personal assistant, a former Orland Park resident named Rebecca Schieber.


But before Schieber was traveling the country in the hotly contested presidential campaign, she worked for two summers in the Glen Ellyn district office of then-state Rep. Sandra Pihos in 2011 and 2012.

"I'm very proud of Rebecca, and it doesn't surprise me one bit," Pihos said.

The Glen Ellyn Republican says she remembers Schieber fondly as someone she could trust with tough assignments not usually handed to interns.

"She had an abundance of leadership skills," Pihos said.

Schieber, 22, also volunteered for U.S. Rep. Bob Dold's 2012 campaign and briefly worked at the Illinois Policy Institute before getting on board with Fiorina.

Open or closed?

Gov. Bruce Rauner has taken a lot of heat for closing the Illinois State Museum in Springfield as the state budget impasse rolls through its fourth month, especially because some of the staff will remain on the state payroll.

The Rauner announcement that foretold that closure way back in early June also said the administration would: "Begin the process of identifying one or two juvenile correctional facilities for closure."

Rauner's staff said then that all the facilities, including the youth prisons in St. Charles and Warrenville, would be considered for possible closure.

Since then, though, there has not been much more about that amid the uproar about the museum.

Rauner spokesman Lance Trover says: "The final decision on which facility will be closed is still being evaluated."


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