Saturday, November 26, 2011



Attorney William J. Sheppard and my friend, Jack Murphy, represented me at the parole hearing and will return to again lobby for my release at the December 14, 2011, re-hearing. Murf’s words were so powerful that I’ve been asked to make them available to our readers. He has previously stated that “If Charlie Norman can’t get a parole, NOBODY can.”

Thanks, Jack, for the endorsement.


“Mr. Sheppard: I would yield to Jack Murphy, who is here on behalf of Charlie Norman.

Mr. Murphy: Good morning. I was there when Charlie Norman drove up to Raiford. I was the inmate coordinator of the very first human behavior program, college accredited program in the state, a program called the Growth Orientation Laboratory, the GOLAB.

Charlie went through that program, and because of his intelligence, his background, his education and his participation, we put him on staff. This is in the ‘70’s. He continues in programs to this day, not as a participant, but as a major, major force in impacting and changing men’s lives in prison. He was sent from Raiford to Zephyrhills to start the program down there.

Everywhere he has gone, he has gone, not as a participant, not as just a moderator, but as a leader in the programs in a system that is waving the re-entry flag, the program flag. I can think of no one in the entire history of this prison system that has had the influence, the impact and the passion to help change people’s lives as Charlie has.

Okay. He gets in trouble for writing some articles that receive standing ovations in New York, and in Chicago, and in Denver, at these international writers’ conventions. And he writes, as Attorney Sheppard said, about the system. No DR. There’s no contraband. There’s no violence. There’s no weapons. It’s something that he wrote.

If the man who wrote 'Cool Hand Luke'  had put that stuff in the mail, he would probably get a DR for writing that award-winning movie then.

Charlie voices the conversation and the attitude that you hear every single day in prisons. They have an animosity towards the parole board, towards the system, towards everything, but that’s just, that’s just talk, and all that is, is talk. You talk about society, a safeness of society.

And Mr. Scriven, you can remember this, because I came before you, years ago, seven out of the nine people voted for me. You didn’t vote for me, and I understand why. A guy with my kind of background isn’t supposed to get a whole lot of favor.

Recently, another official said, 'Oh, Murphy, you got lucky.' After 19 years in prison with a double life sentence, I got lucky. But there were people who believed in me, people who went to bat for me.

And the thing is, I’ve been working with the largest prison ministry in the entire world for the last 24 years. I’ve been in over 2,500 prisons. I spoke in Chicago Saturday at a large convention, because people believed in me and went to bat for me. And I’m going to bat for Charlie Norman, because I know that sitting in the room over here are some men coming in here for other cases that are products. We’re the products of programs. And it’s men like Charlie Norman who make these programs work.

And people say, well, 'We’re afraid of that guy.' Well, he’s not going back to Hillsborough. They didn’t let me back to Miami or Dade County for years, and years, and years. The county doesn’t have to worry about him going back there.

I’m talking about a man with an incredible ability to impact lives in a positive way. The few things that he wrote that caused a little bit of stir and all don’t compare to the volumes that he has written that have passion in them, that clearly illustrate what it’s like living behind bars in prison in this situation.

And as I wrote to Lawton Chiles, as I wrote to Jeb Bush, as I wrote, I’ve worked in prisons, and I’ve met many, many people that also, 'I’m innocent, I’m innocent,' and I just, I don’t even bother with it. But I was there with Pitts and Lee, I was there with James Richardson, who were innocent.

I saw Jesse Tafero die in the electric chair, who was innocent, because I know the man who killed the officer. And I was there with Daniel Grant, who spent 11 years on death row until a dying police officer said, 'I’m not going to the grave with this on my conscience.' He said, 'That man is totally innocent.'

I know that things happen in our system that we’re not proud of and that they’re uncomfortable for us.

And this situation with Charlie Norman, Charlie Norman is a safe, safe prospect for consideration, and I just pray that you would look at what he’s done, and the letters Senator Grant and so many others that have looked at the case are on the same train there. And I just appreciate the chance to go to bat for him. But he’s welcome in my home, and I’ll do everything that I can to help in his transition, as I have for many, many other people that you’ve let out that none of them have come back. They’ve all turned the corner, and they’re products of the prison. Charlie’s not a product. He’s a teacher and an innovator of the programs.

Ms. Pate: Thank you, Mr. Murphy.

Mr. Murphy: Yes, ma'am."

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Dateline: November 20, 2011

The past couple of weeks have been momentous, considering the strides toward freedom we have made. The October 26th parole hearing resulted in a “no decision,” and we will be going back for a new hearing on December 14th. Same rules apply – we need prayers and positive thoughts to give us the edge over the forces of evil. I am grateful for all the support in the past, and hope it will continue.

Since we started the “Free Charlie Norman Now” blog over 3 ½ years ago, well over one hundred blogs have been read by thousands of people in over fifty countries. The power of the Internet is amazing, and I thank Professor Chip Brantley in the Department of Journalism at the University of Alabama, for opening that door for me. Now we are trying to figure out how to get the 55-page “Life In Prison – A Photo Exhibit,” online and available. Chip, can you help with that?

The “Google Age” has resulted in some surprises and reconnections, most notably with my college friends, Sombat and Keila Tasanaprasert, of Bangkok, Thailand, who visited with me in July. They recently went through a severe flood in their country. Some people who googled my name thought I was dead, but it wasn’t me. It was the “Charlie Norman” who was a famous Swedish composer and died in his seventies. Also, courtesy of Google, there was another Charles Norman who was on “The Bounty, “ as in, Captain Bligh and the mutiny, but that wasn’t me, either. He’s been dead a couple hundred years. Interesting story, though.

My Thonotosassa Elementary schoolmate, Ruth May, also located me, alive and well, which was a great encouragement – it’s a good feeling to be remembered. The Exums, Bonnie and Sharron, surfaced a couple of times, but disappeared again. I never did hear from David Hutto, Kathy Sumner, or any others from school days fifty years ago.

My best man, Steve (Stephen John) Wyman and his brother, Bruce Wyman, seem to have vanished from view. Steve, if you’re googling yourself, click on the “Contact Us” button, and give Libby your information.

Same goes for David Tal-Mason, formerly of the RITE Program at Sumter C.I. and now a free man. David sent a nice message, but no contact information. David, if you read this, please reconnect. We need to talk.

Some sad news for our friend and investigator, Dick Rivett, who has been dealing with personal tragedies for over a year. Most recently, he suffered the death of his beloved wife, Sally Ann. Our prayers are with you, Dick. Be strong in your faith, old friend.

For those who just happened upon this blog, we’d like to hear your comments and suggestions. “Contact Us,” and Libby will add your e-mail address to our list for updates. The messages in the electronic bottle float along in cyberspace – no telling where they end up.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Oct. 30, 2011

Dear Editor of the St. Pete Times:

After having been the target of Hillsborough State Attorney Mark Ober’s false accusations for over thirty years, I offer the following observations concerning his latest rants to the Florida Parole Commission on October 26, 2011 [“Hillsborough state attorney Mark Ober fears for his safety if inmate gets parole” ]:

The only person who ever threatened to kill anyone was Mark Ober, when he threatened to have me electrocuted if I did not accept his plea bargains during my 1980 trial for a murder I did not commit. I refused his deals and was found guilty on the perjured testimony of convicted felons who received immunity from Ober. The actual killer walked free.

When Mark first voiced his fearful, “Charlie hates my guts. If he ever gets out, he will kill me,” mantra, I wrote him a letter on September 11, 1991, stating that nothing could be further from the truth, that I had forgiven him years earlier, and bore no animosity toward him whatsoever. Mark’s response to one of his prison clients who was also a friend of mine was that although he did not share my Christian beliefs, he felt that I was sincere, and he would not oppose my efforts at release.

What a difference an election makes!

For the record: No, Mark, I do not want to harm you, I’ve never said that, not even joking, and you shouldn’t stake your reputation on the false statements of con men. In fact, Episcopal priest, Father Bob Anderson, retired, of DeLand, can vouch that for many years, I’ve asked him to pray for my prosecutor and those who hate me.

My suggestion to Mark Ober is that he get right with God, clear his conscience, make amends to those he’s harmed, and give up the alcohol that is obviously killing him. He faces a much greater threat from his own hand than he ever did or will from me. One can’t simultaneously live in irrational fear and live a productive life.

Charles P. Norman
Wakulla Correctional Institution Annex
110 Melaleuca Drive
Crawfordville, FL 32327