Back in 2000, Cornealious Anderson was convicted of armed robbery with a BB gun. Sentenced to 13 years in prison, he was told to await notification regarding the date he’d begin serving his sentence. Time passed. Weeks turned to months. Months morphed to years. And no word would came. So Anderson went on with his life. He got married, raised four children, started a business, and volunteered as a youth football coach. He never tried to conceal his identity, going about his days as a new man.
But last year the Missouri Department of Corrections discovered the reason he never received instructions regarding his incarceration was due to a clerical error. And last July, they showed up at Anderson’s door with a fully-armed SWAT team while he tended to his children.
"He was getting his 3-year-old daughter breakfast,” said Anderson's attorney, Patrick Megaro, “and these men with automatic weapons bang on his door."
People make mistakes. That’s just how it is when dealing with human beings. However, what is to be done when a mistake completely ruins someone’s life? System heads say it was all the result of a clerical error. And if that’s the case, the clerk in question should be terminated. But what of Anderson? What of his life and his dreams?
He’d rehabilitated himself outside of the correctional facilities of Missouri. So why the big rush to throw a man in jail, one who is said to have become a model citizen, while others who are guilty of even more heinous crimes (say like, Ethan Couch also known as the Affluenza) have not served a day in jail? It screams injustice.
Missouri should simply chalk this one up as a loss and keep on pushing. They say justice is blind, but in this instance, a peek at Mr. Anderson’s resume as a model citizen should be taken and his past should be let go. Anything else is not only cruel, but unnecessary and wrong.
Cornealious Anderson filed an appeal in February demanding his release. What happens next isn't clear. This week, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster filed a court response saying the state is justified in making Anderson serve the sentence.
However, Koster wrote that Megaro could refile the case as an action against the director of the Department of Corrections, which could give Anderson credit for the time served when he was technically at large. Gov. Jay Nixon could also commute the sentence.
The last time anything like this happened in Missouri was 1912. In that case, the convicted man was set free.