News & Blogs State of missouri assumed man in prison for 13 years (1 Viewer)


Chasing the Darkness
Jan 4, 2009
Montreal, Canada
"Due to a clerical error, the state of Missouri assumed that a man named Mike Anderson was in prison, serving his 13-year sentence for armed robbery. It's only when they began preparing for his release did they realise that law-enforcement had forgotten to take him to jail."

Update: Mike Anderson Released
MAY 6, 2014

Mike at home with his wife, LaQonna, right after he was released.

A few months ago in our "Except for That One Thing" show, we ran a story about a man named Mike Anderson. In 2000, he was convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to 13 years in prison. But he never went to prison. Law enforcement should have picked Mike up, but for reasons that are still unclear, that never happened. So during those 13 years he turned his life around: he got married, became a father of four and started his own business. He never had another run-in with the law.

The Missouri Department of Corrections only realized its mistake when they were preparing to release Mike from prison last July. At that point, he was re-arrested and put in jail.

Reporter Jessica Lussenhop talked to Mike for our story when he was about five months into his sentence and uncertain of his future.

But yesterday, she was in a small Missouri courtroom with Mike and his family when a judge issued a ruling on his case.

Here's Jessica with more:

Following a lawsuit against the Missouri Department of Corrections, Anderson is simply a free man. A judge decided that Mike would receive credit for the entire time that he was accidentally out of prison, thereby satisfying his 13-year sentence. He said he believed Mike to be a "good man” and jail no longer served a purpose.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster also issued this 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."

Within minutes of the judge’s ruling, Mike walked out of the courthouse hand in hand with his wife, LaQonna. He told me many times he is incredibly grateful for the support he's received, which includes many listeners who signed a petition requesting his release after his story aired on This American Life.

A longer report with photos and video of Mike right after his release can be found at The Riverfront Times, who originally broke the story.

MORE ON THE STORY- for those who like to read

Cornealious Michael Anderson III, Freed from Prison, Reunites with Family

By Jessica Lussenhop Tue., May 6 2014 at 9:20 AM

Jessica Lussenhop
Here is what a kid's face looks like moments after realizing his dad is home from prison (Mike Anderson at left).

Yesterday morning, Cornealious Michael Anderson III woke up in a prison cell at the Southeast Correctional Center in Charleston, Missouri. He said corrections officers threw him in "the hole," or solitary confinement -- he wasn't sure why. He didn't get breakfast.

Fast-forward several hours, and Anderson was at home with his wife and young children in Webster Groves, eating a meal of fried chicken and steak with all the trimmings. He struggled to remember how to use his smartphone.

"It feels like a dream," he said, over and over.

Here's our original breaking story on Anderson -- click through to page 2 for a full chronology.

Anderson was convicted of armed robbery in 2000, but he never served his thirteen-year sentence: A clerical error made by someone in the Missouri criminal-justice system prevented a warrant from ever being issued for Anderson. In the ensuing years he turned his life around, marrying his wife, LaQonna, having children and starting a contracting business. During that time he didn't commit any other crimes.

In July 2013, when the Missouri Department of Corrections was preparing to release Anderson, someone -- it has never been clear who -- realized the state never had him. A team of U.S. Marshals arrested Anderson at his home and upended the family's lives.

Yesterday was the first time a judge weighed in on the case. The Honorable Terry Lynn Brown received briefs from Anderson's attorney, Patrick Michael Megaro, arguing that incarcerating Anderson now is cruel and unusual punishment, as well a counter-argument from Attorney General Chris Koster, who wrote that Anderson used the clerical error to his advantage and was in part responsible for his tardy incarceration. Brown also received a suit filed by Megaro against Missouri Department of Corrections director George Lombardi, asking that the time Anderson was out improperly be counted as time served. This latter motion was what Brown took up in his court yesterday.

Anderson's wife, LaQonna, sat in the front row cradling their three-year-old daughter in her arms, surrounded by his parents, siblings and grandparents.

Megaro presented arguments first, then pleaded Anderson be returned home.

"My client has been his own parole officer for the past fourteen years. He's been able to accomplish on his own what the criminal-justice system often cannot accomplish on its own," Megaro said.

The attorney for the Department of Corrections, surprisingly, barely objected and asked the judge to consider Anderson's good behavior over the past fourteen years.

"Mr. Anderson," began Judge Brown. "In my 24 years on the bench I thought I'd seen everything. And then your case came along, and here we are. So I was wrong."

It didn't take long for everyone in the courtroom to tell that Brown was on Anderson's side.


Google Street View
The courthouse where Anderson received his freedom.

"You're a good man, and you're a changed man, and that makes a huge difference in my decision today.... You're not the man you were fourteen years ago," said Brown. "I believe that continuing to [incarcerate you] serves no purpose" -- here there were gasps and tears from the Anderson family -- "I think it would be a waste of taxpayer dollars. I think it would unnecessarily punish an obviously rehabilitated man."

Brown then declared Anderson would receive credit for time served starting on the day he was released on bond to the day he was arrested in 2013, thereby satisfying his full sentence. Brown's alternative was to credit Anderson from the day in 2002 when his final appeal failed -- a credit of only 11.5 years that would have left Anderson's fate in the hands of a parole board.

"I don't like uncertainty," the judge told the courtroom. "As such your sentence will be fully served and satisfied today.... Go home to your family, Mr. Anderson, and continue to be a good father, a good husband, a good taxpayer.... Good luck to you."


The Andersons leave the courtroom.

The Anderson family broke into clapping and tears, and Mike disappeared in the back room of the courtroom only to emerge minutes later with a huge cardboard box of his belongings. He took LaQonna's hand, and the whole family walked out of the courthouse and into a waiting SUV, where they were mobbed by reporters and camera crews, before speeding off toward St. Louis.

Hours later, Anderson hid in his kitchen in Webster Groves waiting for his two young sons to come around the corner. They'd been pulled from school in the middle of the day, but they didn't know why -- although the mob of reporters on their front lawn might have been a clue.


Jessica Lussenhop

"Daddy!" yelled seven-year-old Jorden after a moment of incredulity.

Twelve-year-old JerQon just smiled silently and hugged Mike. Nine months after their father was whisked away from this very same kitchen in handcuffs, the boys, their youngest sister, Nevaeh, and their mom have him back.

"It feels good to have him home," said LaQonna, "the kids calling his name instead of mine. It just -- it feels really good."

Initially, Jorden seemed more preoccupied with blowing up balloons, JerQon was shy, and Nevaeh would only comment on how she didn't like how long her dad's hair was, but as the commotion died down, a sense of normalcy seemed to descend upon the house.

"I was treated with love from those guys," said Anderson of his cellmates and even the corrections officers he met behind bars. "As soon as they saw me on TV they flocked to me."

He said that even on the ride to the courthouse that morning, the two officers who drove him expressed anger that -- while they were making $29,000 a year -- Anderson's incarceration would have cost an estimated $20,000 a year.

"'There is no such thing as rehabilitation,'" Anderson quoted the officers saying, as he stood over a plate of fried chicken.


Jessica Lussenhop

On Monday evening, the whole family boarded a plane -- along with a freshly shorn Mike Anderson -- for New York City, to do a series of network television appearances starting with the Today Show. It'll be their first time in the Big Apple.

"We can get out and tell people how grateful we are for their support," said LaQonna before their departure.

Anderson says he's looking forward to getting back to his business, taking the kids out on their go-karts and fishing.

"The only thing I can say is, it was bigger than me," said Mike. "Prayer still works. That's the only thing I get from this, really."
We sell all kinds of other stuff in our Etsy store!


plastic wingnut in a microwave
Sep 23, 2009
folks who know me have my #.
at least they got *this* one fucking right, but only because all they could say was "duh"...

shit man, they should not only free him, but give him a piece of all the money he helped the state 'save'..

although.. maybe he didn't, since the state never got paid by the state for him being a ward of the state..


bad fucking medicine..

at least now all the punishers can say "well.. we aren't *that* bad, since we let *this* one go..."

how about decent benefits & a decent wage & fuck stock market earnings?


Sometimes traveler is traveling.
Staff member
Jul 28, 2011
Rochester, NY
boy he's got to feel good - free to not have that part of his brain tied up with trying to stay out of the limelight and hide in plain day.


plastic wingnut in a microwave
Sep 23, 2009
folks who know me have my #.
yah.. yah..

but you know what?

i would have done the same thing.. i dunno if he contacted anyone in state or not.. i might have hit up the lowest level clerk who would have been the lowest link in the direct processing of the food chain, & *documented* it.. odd, because i remember having read this story last year, & i thought he actually *tried* to make sure whether or not he was supposed to be incarcerated..

anyways, hell yeah, Ms. PhotoB..

God bless 'im, 'y know?

i bet he does a great business from here on in, too : )


Chasing the Darkness
Jan 4, 2009
Montreal, Canada
shit man, they should not only free him, but give him a piece of all the money he helped the state 'save'..
Only with American prisons basically just a modern form of slavery, he didn't show up for 13 years worth of work at pennies a day. They keep this up and America will crumble.


Apr 6, 2013
Yea great story... good to see someone make the best of a lucky break.::drinkingbuddy::

Not everyone who got such a lucky "clerical error" would have changed.::meh::

I wonder... bet... parenthood and a good woman might have helped motivate him to change.;)

All the best to you Michael. :)


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