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."

1 comment:

Geri Greene said...

I'm new to your site thanks to a blog post by Sandra Kuschik. I plan to read further, but in the meantime, I send hope for your case and your life in circumstances that have to be more frustration than I can even imagine. Sandra quoted your determination to create your own Christmas in the midst of the anger and frustration of the haves/have nots. As Christmas stories go, yours is unforgettable. Out here we have people knocking each other down to buy a pay of new Air Jordan's just released this week. While you are doing such good 'inside' we need to franchise you and apply your generous spirit to everyone and hope you have the justice and release that you deserve now rather than later.