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April 18, 2014 at 6:40 AM

Turn the Missouri man free

No jail time for a clerical error. Missouri, the Show Me State, is not showing me much with its stubborn insistence that a man overlooked by criminal justice bureaucrats should spend 13 years in jail for embarrassing them.

Cornealious Anderson (AP Photo/ Missouri Department of Corrections)

Cornealious Anderson
(AP Photo/ Missouri Department of Corrections)

Maybe all those folks in Missouri should be mindful of the state motto: “The welfare of the people shall be the supreme law.” The story about Cornealious Anderson, well told by Jim Salter of The Associated Press, is really the tale of a life turned around.

Anderson was convicted in 2000 for his role in a 1999 holdup of a fast-food restaurant. Sent home to bide his time before heading off to 13 years in prison, he waited for the telephone call or knock on the door that never came. In the meantime, he overcame his sole bout of youthful, stupid male behavior, and went on to marry, have a family, learn a trade, and earn a living. And stay out of trouble.

He never hid, never ducked the law or fiddled with his identity or whereabouts. The most telling point for me was a couple of sentences in the story about his being stopped for a couple of traffic violations. Anderson was not in the database for his conviction or prison sentence.

On his own, he played by the rules and succeeded down a new penitential path that corrections officials can only dream about. How many ex-convicts, free after 13 years behind bars, have a shot at the stability and citizenship Anderson produced? Through his own efforts and the support of people who cared about him, he changed for the better.

Now a deeply embarrassed – no, mortified – bureaucracy wants to make him pay. This is stupid, outrageous and insulting. Society and taxpayers got lucky. Respect what Anderson achieved, and is working to sustain. Back off.

Comments | Topics: cornealious anderson, corrections, missouri

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