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Pain Patients: Florida Prisoner Richard Paey is Pardoned

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #502)
Politics & Advocacy

Richard Paey, the wheelchair-bound Florida pain patient sentenced to 25 years in prison as a drug dealer for seeking desperately-needed medications, may be a free man by the time you read this. Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) granted Paey a full pardon on Thursday after a brief hearing in Tallahassee. Paey and his family had only sought clemency.

Paey was severely injured in a 1985 auto accident. A New Jersey physician provided him with prescriptions for necessary pain relievers, but when Paey moved to Florida he took pre-signed prescription forms with him. He was arrested in 1997 and charged with illegally possessing and trafficking in about 700 pain pills obtained with those prescriptions.

Under Florida's draconian drug laws, persons in possession of that amount of pain medication are treated as drug traffickers. Standing on principle, Paey refused plea offers from the state and was ultimately convicted and sentenced to the mandatory minimum 25-year sentence.

Paey's case became a cause celebre for the country's growing pain patient and doctor movement. In August, the governor's office announced that it would grant a waiver allowing Paey to seek clemency. In most cases, inmates cannot seek clemency until they have serve 1/3 of their time.

Thursday, Gov. Crist and three members of the Florida cabinet heard Paey's appeal for clemency. Though the state's parole commission had recommended against granting time-served, Crist went further, granting him a full pardon and ordering he be released immediately. According to the St. Petersburg Times, Crist allowed Paey's attorney, John Flannery to speak for nearly 30 minutes -- the usual time limit is five minutes, then allowed Paey's wife, three children and a family friend to speak as well.

Crist then commented, "I want to move that we grant a full pardon," continuing, "We aim to right a wrong and exercise compassion and to do it with grace," the governor said. "Congratulations... and I state he should be released today."

For further information on the Paey case, click here.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

I am from Florida and this makes me very happy, maybe Florida will really get the much needed change that it has needed for as long as I can remember.

Fri, 09/21/2007 - 12:02pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In India, we have many Ayurvedic prescritptions to help cure addiction problems, but to be honest, Americans who came to here for this treatment are sometimes unable to take the dirt, filth and chaos, and so leave without obtaining any real benefit.

In fact many of these so called drugs are utilised as analgesics, sedatives & hallucinogens (in some cases of insomnia, depression and mental derangement)

Traditional Ayurvedic Vaidya (doctor), can be found in the state of Keral (Spelt as 'Kerala', too). All other places, Muslims and later Christians have almost nearly wiped out the Vedic healers and their timeless professions.

The covertly anti-Hindu policies of the Indian Government have also contributed to this. Nevethless in Kerala (the relatively untouched part of India, which is amazingly lush, green and clean) these Hindu Ayurvedic healers may be found, operating in a modern, clinical environment.

Sat, 09/22/2007 - 4:48am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Of all the drug war news I've read, this is the best news EVER!! I am proud to the point of tears for Governor Crist and his cabinet members for courageously righting a wrong. It surely gives me hope that people in politics CAN be sensible, and I sincerely hope more cases of injustice are corrected.

THANK YOU, all you letter-writers! NEVER think your voice won't count!

Melanie Marshall

Sun, 09/23/2007 - 11:54am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Elect Dr. Ron Paul to the Presidency. Unlike Bush, he will grant pardons to all non-violent federal drug prisoners. And he will do what is possible by a president to help end the federal drug prohibition. He is also the ONLY truly principled, honest man running for that office under the banner of either the Republican or the Democrat party. If you help him get elected this godawful prohibition will be over sooner rather than later.

Sun, 09/23/2007 - 1:59pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

As a Floridian and pain patient, I didn't vote for Gov. Crist due to his party affiliation. Now I weep with joy and hope after reading this.... Gov. Crist has done nothing but good since his election into office. He seems to be the best thing to happen in govt. in a long time. Now if we could just get Dennis Kucinich or Ron Paul elected as President, there would be great hope for restoring America's greatness....

Sun, 09/23/2007 - 7:39pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

The recent decision by the Gov of Florida is a positive sign for all of us that suffer from chronic pain. As a pharmacist and a chronic pain patient myself, now after many years of inappropriately judging many of my customers using "narcotics", I too am changing preconceived ideas taught to me many years ago in pharmacy school. It is unfortunate that not all of our pharmacy and medical schools have not caught up to recent concepts in the use of long term pain medication in chronic pain patients. However what is more disturbing to me is that the state and federal judicial systems seem to even further in the "dark ages" when it comes to treating pain patients.
The Federal government has itself to blame by sending DEA agents to enforce outdated laws against physicians and pharmacists, while their time could be much better spent on tracking down the "true" violators of their existing laws regarding "illegal" drug use and delivery. But it is my experience, that it is much easier for these DEA people to go after legitimate drug prescribers and issuers than those that manufacture illegal drugs. The only reason that I can attribute this too, is the illegal trafficers are usually armed and ready for battle unlike the local physician or community pharmacist.
In the state I practice pharmacy, it is now mandatory that all health care professionals at any level have at least 6 hours of continuing education on current concepts in chronic pain management. Too bad all states do not require the same. It is a shame that honest people who suffer from unrelenting chronic pain are treated like criminals as Mr Paey was in his situation.
The hope that we all can draw from this decision is that the judicial system is starting to realize that they too much change as modern technology and treatments changein the world of chronic pain.

Oregon Pharmacist

Mon, 09/24/2007 - 6:13pm Permalink

j recommend people read the two open public petitions Paey's attorney filed with the Florida Clemency Board.  You will be shocked. This was a case where the prosecutor twisted the law to create a crime that never happened. Indeed, the North Western University exoneration program (on line) today list Paey as the victim of a nonexistent crime. Worse still, Paey endured 3 trials between 1997 and 2004 for this nonexistent crime.

Many thanks go to Gov. Crist.

Wed, 07/28/2021 - 5:39pm Permalink

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