Does a de facto life sentence for $850 worth of cocaine seem excessive?
On October 12, 1993, my dad, Michael Edwards, was arrested and subsequently sentenced as a habitual offender by Lee County Judge Jay Rosman to a total of 60 years in prison without the possibility of parole, a de facto life prison sentence, for selling a small quantity of cocaine on two occasions to his ex-girlfriend-turned-informant to support his past cocaine addiction. Since my dad has been unable to obtain relief through the courts, his only hope for being released from prison is to convince the governor of Florida and two Cabinet members to commute (reduce) his outrageously excessive sentence by way of Florida's Executive Clemency.
In 2013, attorney Baya Harrison (firstname.lastname@example.org 850-997-8469) filed a Request for Review for Commutation of my dad's sentence with the Office of Executive Clemency. Then, in December 2014, his Request (EC # 303287) was forwarded to the Florida Commission on Offender Review (FCOR) for an investigation report and recommendation. Unfortunately, Florida's Legislature stopped allowing inmates to obtain parole, thereby, FCOR has been inundated with a backlog of over twenty thousand Request for Reviews. The last time our family checked, FCOR's Director of Clemency Investigations, Steve Hebert, said they are still working on Requests filed in 2010 so it would probably be "years" before they will get to my dad's Request. Consequently, to expedite matters, he suggested we find as many people as possible to write the governor and Florida's three Cabinet members (the Clemency Board) and ask them to invoke Rule 17 and place my dad's case on the upcoming agenda for consideration.
Below we have drafted and posted a letter explaining my dad's situation for you to conveniently print out, then date and sign it with your contact information to mail to the governor and each of the Cabinet members listed. Mailing letters to them verses sending emails was highly recommended by Mr. Hebert as being the more effective means of contact, but we gladly appreciate any assistance you can offer.
Taxpayers have already paid over $600,000 to keep my dad incarcerated since his arrest in 1993. At the current rate, it will cost an additional $640,000 more to keep him imprisoned for the remainder of his 60-year sentence. This will end up being around $1.4 million dollars to incarcerate my dad, a non-violent drug offender, for selling $850 worth of cocaine to support his past addiction.
Don't you agree this is waste of taxpayer's money? And, for what reason? There is no penological justification for keeping my dad imprisoned for 60 years for two non-violent drug offenses. Cocaine addiction is a disease that can be controlled through proper treatment, not a 60 year prison sentence.
My dad has already been imprisoned for 24 years for these non-violent drug offenses and his current release date is January 2043. What would you do if he was your family member, friend, or loved one? Enough is enough! He deserves to be released now! PLEASE voice your concerns over my dad's outrageously harsh sentence and express your support for his immediate release via Clemency by writing Governor Scott and the Cabinet members today!
In addition, we really need some help to pay for postage, address labels, envelopes, paper, printing, publicity events and other related expenses so please click on the donate button below or mail a check or money order to: Mimi Edwards-Beach, 2305 S.E. 10th Place, Cape Coral, FL 33990-4641. Furthermore, it would be greatly appreciated if you can volunteer some time to help organize and publicize this endeavor. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please feel free to email my aunt (dad's sister), Mimi, at email@example.com.
We desperately need help to promote awareness of his predicament. Please go to his Facebook page "Free Michael Now" to "like and share" by clicking this link www.facebook.com/freemichaelNOW.
If you want to write my dad a letter of encouragement, please mail to: Michael Edwards, 717273; P.O. Box 7171; South Bay, FL, 33493-7171.
To learn more about his situation, please read the News-Press, USA Today, and NBC articles below.
Thank you for your support. You can make a difference in my dad's life!
USA Today Article
Crime and punishment: Fort Myers man waits, prays for freedom
The young man, sandy hair lightened by the sun, took a deep breath before speaking to the judge.
His mother and older sister sat clutching hands in the Fort Myers courtroom.
Michael Edwards, who was 31 years old, thought his ex-girlfriend wouldn’t testify that he sold her $850 worth of cocaine. Before trial, she Read More...
Fort Myers News-Press Article
States start seeing the cost of harsh laws
When Michael Edwards is moved to a new prison, he asks to put a note in the law library asking if anyone has heard of a 60-year sentence for two sales of cocaine.
The sales totaled about $850.
He consults other inmates on the recreation field. Some ask, did they find a gun on you? Did you shoot someone? Was anyone hurt? Read more...
Raising money for lawyer to fight drug sentence
The family of a Fort Myers man sentenced to 60 years in 1994 for selling $850 worth of cocaine is trying to raise money to hire a lawyer with the expectation that arguments may stretch to the U.S. Supreme Court.
We have laws in this country to help us maintain order, and to punish those who break them. And while there are strict guidelines for how a judge arrives at a specific length of time a convicted criminal offender should spend incarcerated as part of their punishment, there needs to be some amount of reasonable flexibility. Read on to find out how you can help a man who should have been released long, long ago.
21 years ago, Michael Edwards made some stupid decisions - Read more...
Should a tablespoon of cocaine equate to life in prison?
Prosecutor calls on Scott to commute man's sentence
Former State Attorney Joe D'Alessandro is calling on Governor Rick Scott to commute the sentence of a Lee County man D'Alessandro put behind bars 21 years ago.
A man is still sitting in prison 20 years after he was found with a small amount of cocaine. Now his family is fighting to get him out and those who put him behind bars agree - the sentence was too much.
Michael Edwards received a life sentence in 1994 after his third drug offense. That's more time than some murders, rapists and violent criminals get.
Edwards and his family call his punishment cruel and unusual.
In the 1980s, Nancy Reagan told people to just say no to drugs. That was still the mindset of many as President Bill Clinton hailed the 'three strikes and you’re out' law in the early 90's, when Americans were adopting tough new policies on crime. Read More...
Fort Myers mom pleads Gov. Scott for mercy on incarcerated son
After two decades in prison, Fort Myers man longs for clemency
The News-Press - Ex-prosecutor seeks freedom for Fort Myers man
Assistant state attorney: Free Michael Edwards
Michael Edwards has spent more than two decades behind bars but his mind still whirs with dreams of what he’d do with freedom.