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.