Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Exemplary Behavioer

You've been a good father. You've been a good husband. You've been a good taxpaying citizen of the state of Missouri. That leads me to believe that you are a good and a changed man.
That's Mississippi County Associate Circuit Judge Terry Lynn Brown explaining why he was cutting Cornealius "Mike" Anderson loose.  Not putting him on parole.  Just giving him credit for time served for the 4,704 days between his conviction and his arrest. That's enough credit, enough days, to send him home.  At once.  

Which the judge did.

I told Anderson's story a month ago.  With my usual degree of snark and cynicism. He'd been convicted of armed robbery, sentenced to 13 years in prison.  But Missouri forget to tell him to turn himself in, forgot to come get him. So instead of going to prison and learning to be a competent criminal, he went and rehabilitated himself.  He started 3 businesses.  He paid taxes.  He got married.  He coached football.  He became, that is, a productive member of society.

Until Missouri remembered and sent a SWAT team to his home to arrest him while he was feeding breakfast to his three-year old.

Last month, I wrote this.
The right thing, the decent thing, the sensible thing, the humane thing, is for Missouri to say,
Gee, Anderson.  We're sorry.  We fucked up.  You've spent 13 years with a cloud hanging over your head, everyday knowing that your life could be totally fucked up in a moment.  Yet never trying to hide or escape.  You've demonstrated in that time that rehabilitation works.  You've become the sort of person we can be proud to have around.  Now, go back to your family and your life.  
Or, of course, Missouri can say,
OK Anderson.  We don't give a flying fuck about any of that shit.  Sure you're a fine guy now, but the asshole stuff you did 13 years ago requires that we treat you like pond scum, ruin your life and your family's, and learn that all we care about is pain and vengeance. Ain't no room for human decency here. This is about inflicting justice.  Bend over and spread 'em.
My bet, the smart money I thought, was on the second of those alternatives.  I admit, happily, that I was wrong.  Missouri, in the person of Judge Brown, chose door number 1. 

Apparently the AG won't object.  He issued a statement.
From the outset, I have proposed a solution that balances the seriousness of Mr. Anderson's crime with the mistake made by the criminal justice system and Mr. Anderson's lack of a criminal record over the past 13 years. Today's outcome appears to appropriately balance the facts as we understand them.
Missouri's got its problems.  But this one they did right.

1 comment:

  1. I was glad to see that article this morning. It's so rare for criminal justice to actually mean "justice."