By Joseph Johnson

It’s no mystery that many of the thousands of inmates behind bars in Missouri prisons are repeat offenders. Statistics show that when a person serves a prison term; there is a high likelihood that they will return to prison some day. In theory, that is the opposite effect that the Department of Corrections (DOC) desires. In fact, one of their stated primary objectives is rehabilitation.

Ideally, when a person is released from prison, the hope is that they become a model citizen. Raising and providing for a family, paying income and property taxes, and perhaps even owning and operating a business; would be considered a very positive adjustment to life outside the walls.

On a July day in 2013, Cornealious Anderson was leading such a life. The carpenter and business owner was preparing breakfast for his 3 year old daughter, when a S.W.A.T. team armed with automatic weapons invaded his home and took him into custody.

The police were thirteen years behind schedule.

In 1999, Anderson had one prior arrest on his record; possession of marijuana. But on the night of August 15th of that year, he and a cousin robbed an assistant manager of a Burger King in St. Charles, MO. Wearing masks, the two men flashed a gun and demanded that the manager turn over the cash he was about to place into a night deposit box. Even though the gun turned out to be a BB pistol, Anderson was sentenced to 13 years in prison for armed robbery. He was temporarily released and told to await instructions on when and where to report to prison.

While waiting on those instructions, Anderson spent his time being as productive as possible. He began working as a carpenter and ended up owning three of his own businesses. At no time while awaiting his sentencing instructions did her ever try to hide. He registered his businesses, paid his taxes and renewed his drivers license, just like any other model citizen. Even after he was pulled over for a couple of minor traffic violations, he paid his tickets and went about his life.

For one year. Five years…a decade.

A clerical error 13 years earlier resulted in Anderson falling through the cracks. Instructions in regards to beginning his prison sentence were never sent to him. That all changed with the S.W.A.T. team’s visit last July. Today, Anderson is living amongst the general population in a Missouri penitentiary.

It is not quite clear which direction Anderson and his attorney will take next. For his part, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has stated that the state is justified in making Anderson serve his sentence. Considering Koster’s track record, this is not a surprising response. Koster did state however, that the case could be refilled as an action against the director of the DOC, and may give Anderson credit for the time he was technically at large. This is a slim strategy since the law does not allow credit for time served when the convicted person is not incarcerated. To muddy the waters even more, the last time a case like this was challenged was in 1912. That man was set free.

The obvious observation to be made here is that Cornealious Anderson is clearly in no need of rehabilitation. However, according to the statistics mentioned at the beginning of this story, each day that he spends in prison increases the odds that he will return upon his release.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon could commute the sentence. So far his office has not commented on the case.