Bill "Toad" Ryan

Bill worked for state child welfare departments since the mid-60ís, and was head of the Illinois state child protection system for 20 years.

In the mid-90ís, Bill became interested in the plight of those on death row, and he organized the Illinois Death Penalty Project that was a significant factor that led former Illinois Governor George Ryan to declare a moratorium on state executions and, later, to commute all death sentences to life sentences.

A few years ago, Bill began publishing a newspaper, Stateville Speaks, which contains essays, poems, and editorials written by prisoners about the dangers of drug abuse, health, and legal issues. When the Illinois Department of Corrections refused to print the paper, Bill raised money to have it printed outside the prison. When prison officials refused to distribute the paper, Bill, represented on a pro bono basis, successfully sued the state officials. The paper is now published and distributed quarterly.

Bill is now working in support of a pending Illinois law that would enable deserving long-termers to be paroled. The bill has passed the House and is awaiting consideration by the Senate.