CHAMPAIGN, Ill., Jan. 23 (UPI) -- A University of Illinois professor is trying once again to secure a Nobel Peace Prize for former Illinois Gov. George Ryan in prison on corruption charges.
For the sixth time, Francis A. Boyle has nominated Ryan to receive the award for his opposition to the death penalty, the Champaign News-Gazette reported Friday.
Ryan, 74, was the first governor in the United States to declare a state moratorium on executions.
Since Ryan took that action in 2000, Boyle says a downward trend in executions has occurred in the United States. There were only 37 executions in 2008, nearly half of them in the state of Texas.
Boyle says he believes Ryan's nomination will be viewed positively by the Nobel committee because no major Western European country currently employs the death penalty.
Lawyers for Ryan have said they plan to ask President Barack Obama to commute Ryan's 6 1/2 year sentence, after President George Bush failed to do so before he left office. Ryan, who is in poor health, has served nearly 15 months of the federal sentence.