Tag Archives: Pastor Eric Payne

Fighting to be Free by Wayne T. Dowdy

Pastor Eric Payne with Family and Friend

[Sign up to follow this blog at the end of any blog post or by clicking the icon in the lower right corner of the screen. Thank you!]

The fight continues to free Pastor Eric Payne from the Georgia Department of Corrections. I initially wrote about this situation in Criminal Injustice and Pastor Eric Payne. https://straightfromthepen.com/2019/07/10/criminal-injustice-and-pastor-eric-payne/ This blog is a follow-up that includes correspondence from Pastor Eric Payne and his loving and carring wife, who continues to fight for the freedom of her husband.

Please pay attention to the minute amount of cocaine used to sentence him to 15-years. I wrote about a similar situation in Freedom for Another Friend, where a friend was serving life without parole, in part, due to a prior conviction for small amount of cocaine, used to enhance his federal sentence. https://straightfromthepen.com/2016/08/09/freedom-for-another-friend/

Pastor Eric Payne

By now you’re aware of what my attorney did to us in taking our money, NOT doing a thing, at the last minute dropping my case. Further, I’m sure you know about the “cruel, unusual, unjust, unfair, and sadistic punishment and game” the parole chief and State recently played on me and my family.

But I DO have some things to say about receiving 15 years for the victimless and nonviolent crime of Felony Possession of Cocaine (.001 gram/residue).

It was a bad decision, but I went back to “hustling” after a series of unfortunate financial struggles in my personal life, businesses, and church. I felt that I was suffocating and everywhere I turned I received no monetary assistance.

Once arrested I received “no bond” for the first 90 days and then a “$190,000.00 bond” afterwards. My Public Defender consistently expressed that he could not understand why the Chief Asst. District Attorney who handled murders, robberies, sex crimes, and all violent crimes was assigned to prosecute. I couldn’t understand it either especially since prior to this case (2013) I had not been in trouble with the law since 2002 in another state. In fact, I had not even had so much as a “Pedestrian Warning” or traffic ticket in GA!

My Public Defender even tried the slick move of claiming I had a drug problem. I paid to be interviewed by two separate residential drug rehabilitation programs and was accepted. Yet the prosecutor refused to agree with the recommendation. Thus, the judge would not consent to me being sent there in conjunction with long-term probation.

After 10 1/2 months sitting in jail working on various details, never receiving any discipline referrals (write-ups), being a role model inmate, and speaking to youths brought in for speeches, I pled to the mercy of the court.

I had a host of letters, pictures of me doing community service through my church, certifications, my pastor’s license and ordination papers, my church charter certificate, and everything needed to validate the launch of my own church presented to the courts yet it wasn’t enough to sway the judge’s (an African-American who preaches in south GA and who has a son with a history of criminal activity, drug involvement and drug addiction) decision to sentence me to 15 years in prison.

Even after the judge’s decision over 30 Detention Officers signed a petition asking the judge to reconsider because I had worked for them for nearly a year and they witnessed first-hand my character, behavior, and work ethic. The judge ignored their request, turned the petition over to the Sheriff, and all 30 officers were suspended and some prevented from advancing or becoming a deputy.

I was wrong for selling drugs and being in possession of the .001 gram (residue) of cocaine. But I felt then, as I feel now, that my charge was ridiculous, and my sentence was/is excessive. I’ve seen men who were in possession of WAY more drugs than myself and who were actually caught selling or trafficking drugs receive much less jail or prison time (including house arrest and/or probation) than myself.

I had (and STILL have) a valid, proven, and verifiable history of being an asset and positive contribution to my family, church, community, and society. Whether through personal contact or through Social Media, I’ve been a “plus” in the lives of those I’ve come in contact with.

Daily my wife, 4 minor children, family, friends, and church pray that someone will finally “listen” to us and begin the process of releasing me. At worst, we hope and pray that someone will listen and bring attention to the changes that need to be made on behalf of those in Sates custody and not just Federal custody (where it’s obvious that all of the “breaks” and opportunities go).

My family and I hope someone will help us.

Thank you for listening.

Pastor Eric

Theresa Payne Speaks Out

My husband was paroled to Palm Beach County FL (by approved Interstate Compact) in October 2018 then snatched from our family in February 2018 due to a “clerical error” between the GDOC and Parole system. He worked hard, was active in our community, and committed no new crimes, had not old/active warrants, and violated no conditions of his parole. 

Me and my children have suffered due to this unfairness, injustice, and cruel and unusual punishment. My husband has suffered as well.

On July 23, 2019 I received a call from Chief Hawkins (Albany/Dougherty County) stating my husband had a TPM (Tentative Parole Month) of July 31, 2019. From July 23rd thru July 25th I had several conversations with chief Hawkins and he repeatedly stated and confirmed via his computer that my husband’s TPM was set for July 31, 2019. Again, Chief Hawkins initiated the call to me with the news of my husband’s TPM.

I notified my husband, shared the fantastic news with our four minor children, told many family members (including my husband’s 95 year old mother), church members, and friends and proceeded to make plans and arrangements for my husband’s return home to West Palm Beach, FL.

I confirmed through the GDOC website and through Counselor Palmer (Montgomery State Prison staff member) that my husband did NOT have a TPM – only a PED for July 2020. Further, my husband personally spoke to Senior Counselor Youmans a (MSP) and Counselor Palmer (MSP) whom both confirmed that my husband did NOT have a TPM whatsoever. Yet, Chief Hawkins persisted and remained adamant in saying my Husband’s TPM was July 31, 2019.

On the afternoon of Thursday, July 25, 2019 I spoke with Chief Hawkins who then changed his statement now saying my husband in fact did NOT have a TPM at all and that, all along, my husband on had a PED for July, 2020.

Chief Hawkins has added additional stress, pain, and suffering to our family’s already sad and horrible situation. How can I fully explain this to our children? How do I share this devastating news to our family and friends? How is my husband expected to deal with yet another unwarranted shock and letdown? We did not ask for this unjust treatment.

It’s clear that Chief Hawkins actions have treated me, my children, and my husband with even greater cruel and unusual punishment than we’ve already been experiencing since February 27, 2019. Again, we did not ask for any of this emotional roller-coaster, mental anguish, harsh treatment, nor, frankly, this cruel “game” being played on us at every point in our travesty.

We also had 2 lawyers that advised us that they could help us and within a matter of months, both have dropped the case leaving my husband without any legal representation. 

Who is left who has any type of compassion?

[Mrs. Payne attached a character reference letter from the Mayor of their town that I cannot post until receiving his consent.]

Theresa A. Payne

Co-Founder at New Zion Assembly – The New Church

Founder at Focused On Purpose

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClYHWKWiOjR4T_ZTV3vYZCQ?view_as=subscriber

Criminal Injustice and Pastor Eric Payne

[Update: Lady Payne now has a UTube Channel and discusses the situation with the re-incarceration of her husband. Follow her at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTGUfI0D7L0&feature=youtu.be In addition, another related blog post is “Fighting for Freedom” https://straightfromthepen.com/2019/08/10/fighting-to-be-free-by-wayne-t-dowdy/ ]

A friend wants attention drawn to the issue of Pastor Eric Payne being put back in prison, after he had been released, and then violated because of a clerical error. I do not know the specifics of this case and do not voice an opinion on the issue of the legalities and facts associated with his return to prison, because of that lack of knowledge.

[Update: July 11, 2019: In response to a comment posted by a reader, I wrote the reply in hope that others will contact the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles to request a commutation of sentence for Pastor Eric Payne]:

State Board of Pardons and Paroles, 2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive SE, Suite 458, Balcony Level, East Tower, Atlanta, Georgia 30334-4909 Telephone: (404) 656-4661 (parole status questions or webmaster@pap.ga.gov)

Media and for public information, call (404) 657 9450   Website: www.pap.georgia.gov

Since I haven’t read Pastor Eric Payne’s sentencing transcripts and do not know the facts of his release, transfer, etc., I cannot say if the State of Georgia released him in error, or if he was transferred from Georgia to Florida under the Interstate Agreement on Detainers Act for disposition of pending charges or for satisfaction of a sentence imposed by the State of Florida, and then Florida released him in error, rather than returning him to the sending state (Georgia).

If the latter is true (Florida released him instead of returning him to Georgia), then if the Georgia sentence imposed by the court had not been satisfied, legally speaking, in my unprofessional opinion, he would owe the remainder of that sentence to the State of Georgia.

However, if the state so chooses, the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles has the power to commute his sentence to time served.

I do note that society seemed to be benefiting more by the man leading the congregation in his church and raising his children, instead of being cast back into prison. Clerical Error or not, is the interest of society best served by his return to prison? Is society safer because Pastor Eric Payne is back in prison? I think not!

I feel other alternatives existed and that if WE, as American citizens and abroad, want to reduce mass incarceration, the public needs to petition the legislatures to implement measures to retrain overzealous prosecutors and law enforcement agents, including probation officers and those associated with criminal justice, to focus more on helping returning citizens to successfully reintegrate into society, rather than sending those people back to prison, unless they pose a threat of injury to others.

Those men and women who are put in prison and then released, who may then fall short of the glory of the criminal justice system, need help in learning how to function as normal, law-abiding citizens. Putting someone back in prison for minor offenses and non-violent crimes, does not help society progress.

Mrs. Theresa Payne on the Reincarceration of Her Loving Husband

Eric Payne and Family

July 1, 2019

My name is Theresa Payne. My husband is Eric Payne. We have four amazing and energetic kids ages 13, 10, 9 and 6. We are ministers and leaders in our community at The Glades (located in Belle Glade, FL). I’d like to share with you the great accomplishments made by my husband from October 2018 until February 2019.

  • Launched several ministries
  • President of Glades Family Services (Our Non-Profit, 501c3 Organization)
  • Regularly participated in community feedings with Lighthouse Café
  • Member of the Glades Ministerial Association
  • Member of the Chamber of Commerce
  • Spearheaded (created) 2 fundraisers to address the needs of the homeless and those in poverty in our community (Run to Belle Glade and Pray for The Glades Concert)
  • National presence for the homeless and those in poverty via YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Periscope and LinkedIn
  • Partnered with esteemed religious leaders and business owners in our community
  • Certified Personal Trainer and Business Owner of One-On-One Custom Fitness (providing individual training sessions as well as weekend bootcamps)

As a Parolee who successfully transferred his parole from Georgia to Florida, I would like to also point out that Eric possessed a valid Florida Driver’s License, abided by ALL laws and ALL conditions of his parole and exceeded every expectation of a parolee.

On February 27, 2019, Eric’s Parole Officer called his cell phone and advised him that his Parole Paperwork had arrived from Georgia and that he was needed in her office. What she left out was that he was about to be re-arrested for a clerical error. My husband was re-arrested due to a clerical error from a 2013 sentence; 3 years was served on a concurrent sentence involving his 2013 sentence but we were told was that he was “released by mistake” and must serve 10 more years. Instead of correcting their error, the State of Georgia decided that in order to cover their own tracks, they would take Eric away from his wife and children, his church, his businesses, and his community and take him back to Georgia to serve 10 more years. This is the definition of cruel and unusual punishment. What is the reason for taking him to another state for a clerical error? Why punish him for an error made by the state of Georgia? Why punish him by stripping him away from all he accomplished when he violated no part of his parole agreement?

We have contacted numerous well-known organizations, individuals, and two attorneys with no success. However, we will NOT give up because what has been done to my husband is WRONG! Because of this injustice, I am separated from my husband, our children do not have their father present, our business has stopped, the events planned for May 4th were cancelled, our church members are without a leader and guide, and our community has been impacted by the absence of Pastor Eric. We are devastated to say the least. What can be done? Who will see past this “clerical error” to see the fact that Eric Payne is needed greatly back home and in our community? Who will make it a point to release Eric immediately due to all of the character letters written by many including the Mayor of our city on his behalf to the Board of Pardons and Paroles, to the Clemency Department, to the Governor, to the Chief of Parole, to the Director of Public Affairs and to whomever else we can reach with our requests? My husband has been wronged and there is simply no reason as to why he must sit in prison when he has not only served his time but accomplished just so much. I need my husband. Our children need their father. Our church members need their Pastor. Our community needs Pastor Eric. His strength, wisdom, experience, teachings, compassion and love are needed here at home and in The Glades Community. Please help us get the word out by sharing our story with all who need to know. As well, please share ANY ideas of WHO we may contact and/or HOW I can get my husband released. (I have launched: #releasemypayne, #releasethepayne, and #releaseourpayne on Twitter.) We thank you greatly!

For more on this issue and a letter from Pastor Eric Payne, visit https://sfbayview.com/2019/04/pastor-eric-payne-paroled-then-snatched-from-his-church-wife-four-children-back-to-prison-for-clerical-error/