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Time for Justice

A letter on the editorial page of the Palm Beach Post at the end of August so incensed me that I determined to write a newsletter about it if I could work my way out from a pile of projects, including the breaking of my contract with my publisher of Blood on Their Hands and putting out a second edition; finishing my new work of creative nonfiction; redoing my author website; planning a months-long stay in Tampa; having dental work done here and planning a trip to Nicaragua for more … I could go on, but you get the idea. I’m still working on these tasks, but felt impelled to do something in behalf of the letter writer.

Senator Rick Scott


His name is Michael Edwards, and he’s an inmate at the Liberty Correctional Institution in Bristol, Fla. His story is that he was arrested in October 1993 and sentenced to 60 years in prison for selling “a small amount of cocaine to my ex-girlfriend on two occasions to support my addiction.” In 2014, he asked the governor of Florida – that would be Rick Scott, he of the Tea Party – for a commutation of the sentence. That had as much chance as a follower of Donald Trump conceding that the man is a criminal, a pathological liar, and a traitor.

Joe D’Alessandro


In 2015 and 2019, long-time former state attorney Joe D’Alessandro of Fort Myers and Cynthia Ann Ross, current assistant state attorney, wrote letters to Scott and the new governor, Ron DeSantis, “urgently” requesting commutation, saying Edwards had served “more than enough time.” Ross prosecuted the case in 1993, sending Edwards to prison.

Governor Ron DeSantis


As a clemency board member, Agriculture Secretary Nikki Fried placed the case on the board’s agenda in November 2019, describing it as having “exceptional merit.” The Florida Commission on Offender Review recommended a commutation of the sentence to Governor DeSantis. At the hearing, Fried argued that keeping Edwards locked up for 18 more years would be “a waste of taxpayers money” and “purely punitive in nature.”

Nikki Fried


DeSantis said he would take it under advisement. About 1 ½ years later, he rendered his decision: request for commutation denied.

Edwards said his supporters think DeSantis acted out of spite; Fried is the only Democrat on the clemency board and, as a candidate for governor in 2022, has been highly critical of his governing. That makes sense: In his mishandling of the pandemic, DeSantis has been utterly transparent in putting politics over the lives of the people of Florida. Like Trump and Scott, who was elected governor and then U.S. senator despite his apparent criminality as CEO of Columbia Hospital Corporation, DeSantis will sacrifice anyone and anything to satisfy his own ravenous appetite for power. These people are devoid of humanity.

In his orders forbidding mandates for vaccinations and wearing masks, DeSantis is simply pandering to his ignorant, science-bashing, Trump loving, conspiracy-theorizing base of supporters. It has begun to backfire on him, and we can only hope Florida has enough decent, reasonable people to throw him out of office and keep him there. Election of a Democratic governor is the only hope for Michael Edwards, now 58, to overcome the gross injustice meted him so that he can rejoin his family after 28 years in prison.

That won’t happen if voters such as the heartless woman who wrote a letter to the editor at the Post are in the majority. The woman, from Greenacres, responded to Edwards’ letter and appeal for readers to sign a petition on his behalf on the website FreeMichaelNow.org, and possibly write to anyone on a list of contacts.

The woman, while conceding that the sentence “could be excessive,” wrote that Edwards’ statement about his crimes’ being victimless “causes me great concern” because selling drugs can have “terrible life consequences.” I would remind her that buyers of drugs are willing victims; Edwards did not force drugs on them. My advice to this woman posing as angst-ridden is to take a Prozac and get over it. She revealed her real motivation by supporting DeSantis in his decision. “Maybe Gov. DeSantis is not convinced of Mr. Edwards’ remorse, of his understanding that there were victims and his acceptance of responsibility for his actions.”

Yeah, our governor demonstrates his enormous concern for people every day by making victims of the pandemic through his refusal to allow and encourage measures that will keep them out of the hospital and possibly save their lives. Words are inadequate to express my indignation at this woman.

I strongly encourage her and anyone concerned about the tragedy that has befallen this man to go to the website, FreeMichaelNow.org, to get the full story, which is all about revenge in a romance gone awry. It’s far more horrendous that what Edwards conveyed in his letter to the newspaper. And maybe, just maybe, it will neutralize perhaps an ounce of this woman’s nauseating sanctimoniousness.

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