Charlie Free Will Be Freed Florida's Parole Commission Unanimously Approved his Release

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Jack Hazen, a.k.a. Charlie Free, will be released from Dade Correctional Institution on March 31, 2009. He was charged with robbery in 1976 after stealing some food. He fled prison and started a new life as Charlie Free until the FBI showed up on his doorstep thirty-two years later in January 2008. He has spent the last year in the Florida prison system.

Just knowing that he's out of prison is a relief that I can't describe, and we've missed him so much

Jack Hazen, a.k.a. Charlie Free, received some great news yesterday - he will not die in a Florida prison. The 63-year-old man will be released from Dade Correctional Institution on March 31, 2009.

After more than 30 years living a double life, Hazen was arrested in Las Vegas, Nev., on Jan. 30, 2008. A Vietnam veteran, Hazen was charged with armed robbery in 1976 for stealing $100 and food from a convenience store. (Case No. 75-1267 / Seventeenth Judicial Circuit in and for Broward County, Florida.)

Although no one was hurt during the crime, he was sentenced to seven years in prison. Hazen fled one year into his sentence because a fellow inmate threatened to kill him.

Hazen started a new, law-abiding life and, according to friends and family, was a hardworking family man. No one was aware of Hazen's troubled past, and his family was shocked when the FBI showed up at his door. He was then extradited to Florida to serve the remainder of his sentence and additional time due to escape charges.

Hazen's Florida attorney, Don Pumphrey, Jr., worked tirelessly on Hazen's case during the last year, and he is thrilled with the outcome.

"Charlie is a good man who is suffering from several medical issues, including Alzheimer's, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and cancer," says Pumphrey. "Charlie made a mistake 33 years ago, but he doesn't deserve to die prison. I applaud Gov. Crist's office and the Florida Parole Commission for understanding this unique case and for making the right decision."

Pumphrey has gone above and beyond the traditional role of an attorney by arranging for Hazen to have a job and a place to live when he's released.

"It will be several months before the interstate compact paperwork is approved, and Charlie needs a place to live while that is finalized," says Pumphrey. "We are also planning to raise some money to fly Charlie's family from Las Vegas to Florida for a reunion."

Hazen's family is overjoyed that he will be released, and they hope to have him back in Nevada as soon as possible.

"Just knowing that he's out of prison is a relief that I can't describe, and we've missed him so much," says Christina Greer, Free's eldest daughter. "We've been so worried about his health during this last year, especially when we learned that he has lost more than 100 pounds."

There was a lot of public support for Hazen, and his lawyers at The Law Offices of Don Pumphrey, Jr. obtained more than 60 letters attesting to his good character. His daughters started a letter-writing campaign to Gov. Charlie Crist's office, and also dedicated a Web site to freeing their father at http://www.freecharlesfree.com.

Hazen will be living in Panama City while he waits for the interstate compact paperwork to be completed. The attorneys at Bollinger & Anderson have offered their time and expertise to help make Hazen's transition easier and offer any additional legal support that may be needed.

Editor's note: Call Megan Fuhrmeister to arrange interviews with Hazen's attorney, Don Pumphrey, Jr. Image suggestions include headshots of Hazen and Pumphrey, which are available upon request.

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