by Sam Levin
Today in print, we bring you the story of a massive procedural screwup in the Missouri criminal-justice system that allowed Cornealious "Mike" Anderson, 36, to walk free for thirteen years for a crime he committed when he was 22.
For more than a decade, Anderson was supposed to have been in a Missouri prison cell, serving his sentence for an armed robbery in St. Charles. It would have been very easy for police to find him: He didn't change his name or leave town and in fact, his address in Webster Groves is two blocks away from the last one the court system had for him. Yet due to a serious oversight, the system seems to have simply forgotten about him altogether. That is, until this summer when the Missouri Department of Corrections was preparing for Anderson's release -- the release he would have been getting if he had in fact been incarcerated since 2000, as prison records apparently showed.
Meanwhile, Anderson has been leading an upstanding life, married with children, not getting so much as a speeding ticket over the last thirteen years.
But after discovering its mistake, the state had Anderson arrested in July to serve his sentence.
Does he owe the state thirteen years? And should the system take into account the fact that he has been a good citizen who has turned his life around?
Read more about this incredible case in RFT's cover story this week, "The (Extremely Long) And (Sometimes Forgetful) Arm of The Law," by Jessica Lussenhop.