Graham Meyer is a writer, editor, composer, and crossword puzzle constructor based in Chicago. He reviews restaurants for Crain’s Chicago Business and covers classical and new music for Chicago magazine. His music has been performed by Musae and the Princeton Katzenjammers. His puzzles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and The New York Sun.


Former governor George Ryan is only the latest in an ignominious line of Chicago and Illinois politicians who have been convicted of crimes committed while in office. A few remain in the public eye-ex–U.S. Representative Dan Rostenkowski offers political analysis on television, for example, and former alderman Cliff Kelley plays host on a popular radio show. But many others served prison terms and then disappeared from the news. We wondered what life was like on the other side of this experience, so we looked up some of these ex-cons to see how they were doing and what they were up to. In our unscientific survey, a surprising number were unrepentant, or at least unapologetic. Many volunteered opinions about overzealous prosecutors. And most, despite their past, seemed to have found some peace.

May 15, 2006

Mini profiles of 11 former Illinois politicians who had been convicted of corruption and sent to prison. I also got hung up on a lot during the reporting of this story.