Says Richard Paey, who didn't take the doctor's advice and did badly in prison. He is a paraplegic with multiple sclerosis who was convicted of drug trafficking, based on his possession of a large amount of painkillers, which he contended were solely for the treatment of his own pain. In prison, the state treated him with even larger doses of painkiller than he'd been giving himself.
Governor Charlie Crist pardoned him in October, and here he gives a long, interesting interview to Radley Balko of Reason. (And here's the Metafilter discussion of the piece.)
reason: Many people have compared your case to that of Rush Limbaugh. Some have said Limbaugh was let off because of his political affiliation. But reason’s Jacob Sullum has suggested Limbaugh was let off because he played the drug warrior’s game—he admitted he was an “addict,” and took his punishment. But you refused to say you were an addict, or concede that you’d done anything wrong. You insisted you needed painkillers to live a normal life. Sullum believes that’s why Limbaugh got a slap on the wrist, while you got 25 years.
Paey: I think Sullum’s take is pretty accurate. Mr. Limbaugh chose to label himself an addict. What I didn’t understand when I went to trial is that there is a tremendous fear of addiction in this country. The prosecutor in my case didn’t see me as a patient...
This is a serious problem we have in this country—this fear of addiction, and how we perceive the use of prescription drugs. There are lots of myths and misconceptions out there.
Whoever was counseling Rush Limbaugh gave him good advice. Admitting he was an addict played to his favor. I was convicted because the prosecutor hammered away at the jury that I was an addict and that my doctor was a pusher. I was sort of blindsided when the prosecutor started to make that argument—that I was nothing more than an addict. I can’t think of a worse slur to attach to a person.
CORRECTION: The governor who pardoned Paey was Charlie Crist, not Jeb Bush.