After more than four decades of wrongful imprisonment for a trio of murders he didn't commit, Kevin Strickland has been freed from the Missouri prison system. He was sentenced in 1979 at the age of 18. Recently, Judge James Welsh overturned the charges due to the fact that any evidence used against Strickland was ultimately disproved.
As for compensation for his 42 years, four months, and 11 days in Missouri prisons, most recently the Western Missouri Correctional Center in Cameron, the money looks to be coming from the public and not the state.
A GoFundMe for Kevin Strickland has raised over $390,000.
The public has come together through a GoFundMe page for Strickland that has raised $396,636 as of mid-day Nov. 24. The donations have come from about 6,800 individuals, which makes the average donation amount at this point nearly $60. The fundraiser's goal is to reach $430,000 for Strickland, who turned 62 years old on June 7.
One donator, Kalyani Robbins, wrote, "This is such a tragic loss of more than four decades of a unique and beautiful life that matters. He deserves so much more than this money, though I am glad to see it happen. Reforming the criminal justice system will be our next gift."
Kevin Strickland wasn't exonerated through DNA, so the state of Missouri can't compensate him.
Tricia Rojo Bushnell, the executive director of the Midwest Innocence Project and host of Strickland's GoFundMe, told reporters, "That is not justice. [...] I think we are hopeful that folks are paying so much attention and really asking the question of 'What should our system of justice look like?'"
While there won't be any compensation from the state, donations continue to pour in for Strickland from his local and global community.
The Midwest Innocence Project will keep fighting for Kevin Strickland.
The fight isn't over for Strickland and other wrongfully convicted people. Strickland is stuck between a rock and a hard place with no state monetary or social service compensation and no reentry assistance that guilty prisoners get (like counseling, housing, and work).
Strickland, who plans to live with his brother, for the time being, said, "I have nothing." Meanwhile, people are working to develop a compensation program in Missouri. For example, in neighboring state Kansas, wrongfully convicted individuals are compensated $65,000 per year of incarceration. In Strickland's case, that would amount to at least $2.73 million.
Organizer Rojo Bushnell discussed the funds that the public has donated and said, "Thank you all for your support! All funds go directly to Mr. Strickland, who the state of Missouri won't provide a dime to for the 43 years they stole from him."