After spending more than five years in federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana on corruption charges, Ryan is now a free man.
He did five years, three months in prison, five months home confinement in Kankakee, he is still looking at another year of mandatory supervised release, but as of Wednesday, Ryan is again a free man.
He returned home Wednesday afternoon, got out of his son's truck, looked at all of the media assembled and said, "What are you all doing here? Did you come for dinner?"
"I feel wonderful," Ryan went on to say. "I'm glad to be home. There's no place like home, especially in America. And freedom's a great thing and I'm glad I got mine back."
Ryan initially said he wasn't going to answer a lot of questions. But he did answer quite a few, interspersed with poking some fun at reporters camped outside his home.
"Are you going to get out of my hair?" he asked. "How long were you going to stay if I didn't show up? I got up and 3 o'clock in the morning, I looked out and there was a camera sitting right on my front stoop, right in my front door. Three o'clock in the morning.
"You can stay all day, but I want to tell you, I've heard from the neighbors all day. 'When are you coming home? Get these bums out of here.'"
Ryan says he feels good physically for a man almost 80. He lost a lot of weight in prison and maintains an exercise regimen now. But he also acknowledges there are aspects of his life that are not easy.
"It's an empty house without my wife of almost 60 years. Friday was her birthday. She caught up to me finally and got to be 79 and that's life."
Going forward Ryan says he intends to stay busy as advocate for social causes, particularly his opposition to the death penalty.
"That's still one of my causes and I'm going to be involved in it," he said. "Hopefully, get back on the speaking circuit so I can talk about it. But I am still trying to get acclimated. I've only been home for about five months.
This is the first time that Ryan has spoken publically since his departure for prison back in the fall of 2007. He declined to answer specific questions about his time behind bars, largely in Terra Haute. But he does say that he's now able to freely speak publicly and will likely go after some invitations to speak on a cause that is near and dear to his heart, the death penalty.
He is also writing a book about his years in politics.