With all the news coverage focused yesterday on the Jena 6
protest, the pardon
of Richard Paey and the restoration of his civil rights received far less fanfare.
Paey--a chronic pain sufferer due to a serious traffic accident and back surgery gone bad--was basically convicted for trafficking his own pain medication. Also a person living with multiple sclerosis, Paey's refusal to plea to drug trafficking charges and his ultimate conviction (three trials later) kicked in the mandatory minimums sentencing guidelines--25 years.
The real kicker? Since his incarceration, prison doctors had hooked him up to a morphine drip, which delivers more pain medication daily than he was convicted of trafficking.
Paey hoped for commutation of his sentence. The Florida Parole Commission had recommended against that request. Governor Crist's unexpected motion for a full pardon and the unanimous agreement by the members of the Florida Cabinet sent a huge message, underscored with a parting shot by the governor.
"If they're prosecuted appropriately, then justice will be done," he said. "Obviously, this case cries out for a review of that process."
Attorney General Bill McCollum--a straight up law and order kind of guy who supported mandatory minimums sentences as a member of Congress--made a surprising comment, stating, "Our laws are very much to blame."
Paey's wife had this to say about that.
"I've changed. I no longer trust the police. I don't trust the justice system," she said. "Only the media got our case right."
Quite the telling observation, considering her husband, Richard Paey is a former attorney.
by Illinois Senator Barack Obama to Jena 6 reaches far past the small Louisiana town and straight to the heart of civil rights. "...outrage over an injustice isn't a matter of black and white. It's a matter of right and wrong" ...
There's a whole lot of wrong to be righted in this state, but yesterday the Governor and the Florida Cabinet took a good first step, making a civilly right decision that dropped the mask of politics and revealed the human face of moral values.
Labels: Bill McCollum, Florida Cabinet, Governor Charlie Crist, Richard Paey