A victim in the war on drugs, Richard Paey was just wheeled out of prison by a guard, a free man for the first time in 3 ½ years thanks to an immediate and unexpected pardon by Gov. Charlie Crist and the Cabinet this morning.
''I feel pretty good. I feel pretty good,'' he said, squinting in the sunshine from his wheelchair. ``Today was the day for miracles. I didn't think this day would come.''
That's because the 49-year-old felt the system has been stacked against him and his family ever since he was convicted, after three trials, on drug trafficking charges in a 1997 arrest for filling out fake prescriptions for about 700 oxycodone and 400 hydrocodone narcotic painkillers and 320 Valium pills.
Freed at 2:51 p.m., he was to be imprisoned for almost 22 more years.
The catch: Everyone, including judges, acknowledged the traffic accident victim was using the pills for debilitating pain. And since his incarceration, prison doctors have hooked him up to a morphine drip, which delivers more narcotics in about two days than he was convicted of trafficking.
The state's parole commission recommended denying clemency for Paey, who was only seeking to have his prison sentence commuted. But after his lawyer, wife and four children wept and pleaded for Paey's release, Crist and the Cabinet went further than Paey expected by unanimously agreeing to grant him a full pardon -- meaning he'll have the right to vote and carry firearms.
Good for Gov. Charlie Crist. We wish Richard Paey the best. Justice has finally been done.