Modern-Day Jean Valjean Set Free

Cornealious “Mike” Anderson, a Missouri man sentenced to 13 years in prison in 1999 for his part in a robbery, instead spent 14 years as a free man with a new lease on life. He didn’t run or hide; after his conviction, he waited for police to show up and haul him off to prison — only, because of a clerical error, they never did. At least, not until July of this year, when Anderson came home from his job to find cops outside his house.

It was a lucky break, and he made the most of it. Anderson rehabilitated himself: he got a job, earned a living, got married, moved to the suburbs, had children, coached youth sports and volunteered at church. This might sound familiar if you heard the This American Life story about Mike Anderson, “Except For That One Thing,” or if you know the story of Les Miserables, wherein Jean Valjean, imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread, finds life so miserable as an ex-con that he breaks parole and starts a new life, at which point he too becomes a model citizen.

But justice, in the form of the obsessive detective Javert, continues to stalk Jean Valjean until a climactic final showdown. Not to give away the ending of Hugo’s 1862 classic, but even Javert, after much struggle, comes to the same conclusion as the state of Missouri: there is no point in punishing a man who has repented and become a pillar of his community. After many months, news stories, and a Change.org petition, Mike Anderson has been set free.

Judge Terry Lynn Brown lauded Anderson’s “exemplary” behavior during his 13 years of freedom before the arrest. “You’ve been a good father. You’ve been a good husband. You’ve been a good taxpaying citizen of the state of Missouri. That leads me to believe that you are a good man and a changed man.”

Anderson walked out of the courtroom with his wife and 3-year-old daughter on one arm and his mom on the other.

Congratulations, Mr. Anderson, and well done, Judge Brown. If only prison really were seen as a last resort. If only more people were allowed second chances.

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8 Comments / Post A Comment

garli (#4,150)

And now I’ll have the soundtrack running through my head all day.

therealjaygatsby (#4,053)

Another day, another destiny.

Kissy (#5,345)

@therealjaygatsby On this never ending road to Calvary

Allison (#4,509)

brb rewatching NPH and Jason Segal doing the confrontation scene

@Allison which is my favorite everything

Fear Biter (#981)

@ Allison, @Ester Bloom – is this the place where I can talk about how much I HATE focus-pulling Josh Radnor’s (and to a lesser extent the rest of the cast’s) reaction shots in the various venues where NPH and Segal have been asked to do this? I can’t even look right at the screen when I watch the performance from the Megan Mullally show (real talk – once a week minimum) because UGH. The performative laughter, the twitching and jerking. And he does it again on Inside the Actor’s Studio!!! It’s painful how much he can’t stand it when people aren’t talking about him.

Ted Mosby, get off my lawn!!!

Eric18 (#4,486)

@Fear Biter Still can’t believe the awful series finale. So easy to get right yet they fumbled so badly. Thank God several fans edited a better ending on YouTube.

kellyography (#250)

I am so glad this worked out well. I not only love when good things happen, but when they happen in a way that makes St. Louis look good! #hometownhooray

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