George Ryan nominated again for Nobel Peace Prize
Imprisoned ex-governor George Ryan is up once more for a Nobel prize, with his nominator hoping for a more friendly response, including a pardon from a new White House.
Francis A. Boyle, a longtime University of Illinois professor of International Law and Human Rights, nominated Ryan, 74, for the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, his sixth such nomination.
Boyle said a Norwegian institution that investigates the nominees could look kindly upon the former governor, imprisoned since 2007 on corruption changes. Ryan's sentence is for six and a half years.
The professor nominated Ryan for his opposition to the death penalty. In 2000, then-governor Ryan declared the Illinois death penalty moratorium, the first in the U.S.
Nationwide, 37 executions took place in 2008, marking a 14-year low and continuing a downward trend that began with Ryan in 2000, Boyle said. About 95 percent of all executions occurred in the South last year, with 49 percent in a single state, Texas, the professor added.
"The death penalty is on its last legs here in the United States," Boyle said, crediting Ryan for the shift.
Boyle believes Ryan could get kindly consideration from the Nobel committee because no major Western European country still has the death penalty.
He also said Ryan has a far greater chance for parole than he did under George Bush, an advocate for the death penalty with an aggressive former Attorney General John Ashcroft, who pushed for states to seek the extreme penalty.
"I would hope we would see a sea change under Barack Obama," Boyle said, noting the 44th president has already put a moratorium on trials at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.