Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Opinion

April 18, 2014

Justice is blind, deaf and dumb

(Continued)

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Last July Cornealious Anderson was standing in his kitchen making breakfast for his 3-year-old daughter when a SWAT team broke down his door and took him into custody.

At 37 years old, Anderson was taken to Southeast Correctional Center in Charleston, Mo., to begin serving a sentence for a crime he had committed when he was 24. He is to get out in 2026.

In a not-too-dissimilar circumstance last week, a man found himself serving time for a crime that someone else had committed. Yes, of course, it was Cornealious Anderson who had committed the crime but he was a very different person at 37 than he was at 24.

It’s easy to see that he cleaned up his life. He started three businesses in 13 years. He became a productive member of society. He was rehabilitated. That tends to happen. Twenty-four-year old punks often turn into 37-year-old upstanding citizens.

To me, the kicker here is that Anderson never hid. He wasn’t on the lam. He just thought they forgot about him. And if someone forgets you’re supposed to go to prison, are you going to remind them?

Currently, Anderson is trying to appeal his case, hoping that sheer justice will get him out of prison. It simply isn’t fair to send someone to prison until they’re 50 for a petty crime they committed when they were 24.

The problem is there’s no “fairness” clause in Missouri law — or any other law, for that matter. And the system doesn’t account for his self-rehabilitation. The jailers have to rehabilitate them in their own way.

Barring clemency by the governor, Anderson will serve his 13 years. He’ll miss out on his kids growing up. And they’ll grow up without a father. And when he leaves prison in 2026, he won’t be the same man he is today. Anyone would be hard-pressed to suggest he might be better. Most likely, he’ll be worse.

I can only hope that Cornealious Anderson gets the justice he deserves, not the legal ruling that was cast upon him.

Scott Leffler really did wear a tie to school every day in 1985. Now, not so much. Follow him on Twitter @scottleffler for baseball hat clad selfies.

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