Richard Paey, sentenced to a mandatory minimum 25-year sentence in Florida’s Department of Corrections, was recently moved to “protective confinement.” He is a 46-year-old father of three, who sits in a wheelchair, debilitated by multiple sclerosis and chronic pain from botched back surgery.

Although he never sold one pill, Paey was convicted for trafficking for possessing roughly one ounce of prescription pills, which he used to relieve his pain. Under Florida law, having more than 28 grams of painkillers automatically classifies one as a trafficker.

Jurors in his trial regret their decision to convict Paey. The jury foreman assured them it was okay to vote guilty because Paey would receive only probation and opposition agreed to a guilty verdict.

Following is a statement written by his wife, Linda Paey:

 Update in Richard Paey

Richard was moved last Thursday to Daytona Beach (Tomoka C.I.) where he stays in "protective confinement".
Richard spent his first 14 months in prison in the infirmary and then later in the general population of Zephyrhills Correctional Institution.

For over a year in Zephyrhills Rich saw the facility doctor and pain specialist in Tampa for his morphine pump refills. (Rich’s pump was surgically implanted seven years before he was incarcerated.) He was abruptly moved and placed in confinement two weeks after he was interviewed by the New York Times. We were told that he was sent to Lake Butler for a medical evaluation like the other morphine pump patients however he was never evaluated during his three week stay.

Confinement is a very nasty place meant to punish inmates who have done wrong while in prison, he was told this was done for his protection! Apparently it took the New York Times interview (and prior to this the ABS Nightline interview) to push him into this status.

For his protection, all his privileges were taken away and he was held in a handicapped inaccessible sweatbox. Lights are kept on 24/7, no chapel, no telephone access. After numerous calls were made they moved him in the hospital in the Lake Butler facility. Expecting but never being seen by the doctor they instead shipped him out, the trip again made in shackles which are uncomfortable to regular inmates but tortuous for Richard with his spinal conditions and MS.

Again he [was] thrown in confinement for a day when he arrived at Tomoka and then in protective management. He continues to be told this is done to protect him from others who wish to do him harm in their attempt to get the morphine from his pump. In protective custody, he is housed with 70 other inmates, has restricted privileges, no handicapped facilities and shackled when moved even to see the doctor.

It doesn’t sound like they are protecting Richard from other inmates. I have left messages with the Tallahassee office and the medical staff at the new facility on Friday in attempt to find out information about Richard’s moves or medical status but no one has returned my calls.

The following is Rich’s current address:
Richard Paey #R29228
Tomoka Correctional Institution
3950 Tiger Bay Rd
Daytona Beach, FL

For more information about Richard Paey, his case, and his story, listen to two shows in the Criminal Justice Forum archive:

Spouses with Untreated Pain, originally aired 3/19/2005 Click here.
Pain Relief Network, originally aired 02/21/2004 Click here.

and visit:

The November Coalition
Pain Relief Network
View Richard’s drawings from prison.
Read July 19, 2005 – The New York Times Op-Ed: Punishing Pain By John Tierney