(CNN) -- Here is a look at the life of George Ryan, former Governor of Illinois.
Personal: Birth date: February 24, 1934
Birth place: Maquoketa, Iowa
Birth name: George Homer Ryan, Sr.
Father: Thomas Ryan, pharmacist
Mother: Jeannette Ryan
Marriage: Lura Lynn Lowe (1956-June 27, 2011, her death)
Children: with Lura Lynn Lowe: Nancy, Lynda, triplets Julie, Joanne, Jeanette, and George Jr.
Education: Ferris State College, B.S., 1961
Military: Army, 1954-1956
Other Facts: Worked as a pharmacist in his family's business.
"Our capital punishment system is haunted by the demon of error -- error in determining guilt, error in determining who among the guilty deserves to die," Ryan said in a speech announcing the blanket commutations.
The 163 men and four women whose sentences Ryan commuted were convicted of killing more than 250 people.
Timeline: 1968 - Serves as chairman of the Kankakee County Board.
1972 - Is elected to the Illinois House of Representatives.
1981-1983 - Speaker of the House.
1983-1991 - Lieutenant Governor of Illinois.
1990 - Becomes secretary of state under Governor Jim Edgar.
November 3, 1998 - Is elected governor of Illinois.
January 11, 1999 - Takes office as governor.
January 31, 2000 - Calls for a moratorium on executions, "until I can be sure that everyone sentenced to death in Illinois is truly guilty."
August 8, 2001 - Rules out running for re-election because of a scandal over bribery.
October 2002 - Orders the Illinois Prisoner Review Board to hold two weeks of clemency hearings for almost all of the death row inmates. He does not attend the hearings.
January 11, 2003 - In one of his last acts as governor of Illinois, Ryan commutes the sentences of all 167 inmates on Illinois's death row.
December 17, 2003 - Is indicted on federal charges of taking payoffs, gifts, and vacations in return for government contracts and leases while he was secretary of state.
April 2006 - Convicted of racketeering conspiracy, fraud, and other offenses for taking payoffs from political insiders in exchange for state business while he was Illinois secretary of state and governor.
September 6, 2006 - Is sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison for racketeering, conspiracy and fraud for taking payoffs while in office.
November 7, 2007 - Ryan reports to prison, minimum-security Federal Correctional Institution Oxford, Wisconsin to begin serving a 6 ½ year sentence.
February 28, 2008 - Is transferred to Terra Haute FCI in Indiana. New rules prohibit the Oxford facility to house inmates older than 70.
November 25, 2008 - Ryan appeals for clemency in a letter to President George W. Bush. He is backed in his clemency appeal by Sen. Dick Durbin and Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Mr. Bush leaves office on January 20 without granting Ryan clemency.
December 12, 2008 - Ryan apologizes for the crimes he committed in office as part of his bid for clemency. He says, "I want to make things right in my heart with God, with my family and with those I have hurt...As a former public official, a husband, a father and a grandfather, I apologize."
February 7, 2009 - An Illinois appellate court rules that Ryan is eligible for part of his state pension, an estimated $65,000 a year. The pension will cover the years he worked in the state legislature and as the lieutenant governor. The Illinois Attorney General plans to appeal.
February 19, 2010 - The Supreme Court reverses the appellate court decision stating that Ryan is not entitled to any of his state pension.
June 27, 2011 - Ryan's wife Lura dies after suffering from terminal lung cancer. Ryan is temporarily released from prison so that he can be with her during her final hours.
January 30, 2013 - Is released to home confinement to complete the rest of his sentence.
July 3, 2013 - Is released from home confinement.