Back in 2000, after he was convicted of armed robbery of a Burger King, Cornealious Anderson was sentenced to 13 years in prison and told to await further instructions on when and where to report. Those instructions never came.
Instead, Mr. Anderson, while patiently waiting, decided to turn his life around. He started a family, opened a business, paid his taxes, and never ran -- nor hid who he was -- from state and local officials, or anyone else. Which is why, when the S.W.A.T. team came for him out of the blue last July while he was making breakfast for his daughter, it came as quite the shock.
Since then, for the better part of the last year, he's been languishing in general population of the Southeast Correctional Center in Charleston, Mo., awaiting an appeal. However, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, feels the state is completely justified in coming for Mr. Anderson thirteen years later, and has filed a motion with the court to deny Mr. Anderson's appeal.
Mr. Koster states "The United States Supreme Court has upheld much more severe sentences for much less serious crimes."
So, that makes it "Okay?"
Mr. Koster then says, "No precedent indicates Anderson's circumstances or anything like them are cruel and unusual punishment."
So what if 'no precedent' exists? Why can't this be the first one? If every lawyer went around winning case after case simply by claiming, "No precedent exists," there'd never be a precedent.
Patrick Megaro, Anderson's attorney, says Koster missed the point entirely:
"I'm not saying a 13-year sentence is cruel and unusual. I'm saying enforcement of a 13-year sentence 13 years later, making it a 26-year sentence, is cruel and unusual."
No one is condoning what Mr. Anderson did all those years ago. He committed a crime, and although armed with just a BB gun, deserved to be punished for it. But, at what point does the punishment outdo the crime? If the state waits thirty years to punish someone for stealing a car, do they have the right to send a S.W.A.T. team to your house and bust down the door as if you're currently on the nation's most wanted list? Do they have the right, after 10, or 13, or 20 years to take you away when it was clearly their mistake?
-- At what point does it become cruel and unusual punishment for The State to completely ignore all mitigating circumstances of a case in the blind political pursuit of "Justice?" (Justice may be blind, but our Justice system is Helen Keller.)
-- Isn't part of the reason we have correctional facilities in the first place to "correct" people? Thus, If the state forgets to lock someone up for over a decade, and in that time, a man demonstrates such a bang-up job of rehabilitating himself -- and any reasonable person can clearly see he's no longer a danger to society -- shouldn't there simply be "Community Service," or some kind of "slap on the wrist" which, while not forcing the state to publicly admit their error, doesn't ruin a man's life?
-- Does society expect any reasonable person to show up at the county courthouse a year, five years, or thirteen years down the road and say, "Uh, excuse me gentlemen, but you forgot to lock me up?"
-- At what point do we stop being politicians and start being human beings?
If the facts of this case aren't a cry to state and federal lawmakers everywhere to re-examine the statute of limitations on sentencing guidelines, I don't know what is.
Rehabilitation notwithstanding, say a man doesn't turn his life around -- say he doesn't start a business, or a family, or coach pee-wee football -- but he's not tried to run nor committed a single crime since; at what point does it become an abuse of The State's power to come after this man? It's amazing what The State can do under the guise of "The Law."
Not telling Cornealious Anderson when to report to prison to begin his sentence was clearly an error on the part of the Missouri Dept. of Corrections. Face it, guys, ya fu%#d up. Now, as with any bureaucracy, it becomes a pissing match. And it didn't have to be.
Now, with public outcry and media attention, if they let him go, the state will be forced to admit it made a mistake. However, there's still hope. Gov. Jay Nixon can ride in on his white horse, win millions of votes, and come off as the good guy in commuting Mr. Anderson's sentence.
Sadly, as has been the case for thousands of unfortunate souls who fall within the unrelenting grip of the U.S. Justice System, it appears the state of Missouri will, once again, ignore common sense and destroy the life of another individual as well as his family's. They already are.
The obtuse stubbornness of politicians never ceases to amaze me. With their primary goal being a re-election in November, you'd think someone would've realized from day one the shit-storm a social media campaign for one man's freedom in the face of clear abuse of power would produce, and quietly let him go. Instead, they choose to fight to the death: be it the death of a man's freedom, or the death of a D.A's political career.
At present, the petition to free Cornealious Anderson has over 27,000 signatures and counting.