Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has suggested that it just would not be fair to let Kevin Strickland, who even prosecutors now say has been in prison since 1978 for a triple murder he did not commit, jump the line ahead of the 3,000 other applicants for clemency who are waiting for his attention.
Fair is fair, right?
“When something like that comes up, we look at those cases, but I don’t know that that necessarily makes it a priority to jump in front of the line,” Parson told reporters. “We understand some cases are going to draw more attention through the media than others, but we’re just going to look at those things.”
The other 3,000 men and women in line can just keep waiting, too, actually, because more urgent matters naturally take precedence.
On Wednesday, for example, Parson was attending a cattle show in Springfield.
He posted pictures of himself at a ribbon cutting for a new Frozen Foods Express facility in Butler that he said he was excited about. So with that going on, who could get excited about a man who has spent his entire adult life in prison for a crime he did not commit? Priorities, people.
In recent days, he also proclaimed this “DAIRY MONTH” in Missouri, and noted on his Facebook page that he’d “had a blast at the Professional Registration’s employee appreciate BBQ this afternoon.”
Busy, busy. There’s nothing wrong with any of the above, of course. And no one can accuse our governor of trying to hide the fact that righting the monumental wrong done by the state he runs is last on his do-list.
Parson also mentioned that Strickland was tried “by a jury of his peers” and found guilty. Yes, like every other wrongly convicted person. He mentioned that he knows there is “a lot more information out there.” Right again. And all of it points in the same direction.
We do have to commend the Republican as well as Democratic Missouri lawmakers who are not so callous about Strickland’s suffering, and who wrote to ask Parson to do the right thing. The letter was organized by Rep. Andrew McDaniel, the Republican chair of the Missouri House committee that oversees the state’s prison system. Ten Democrats and two Republicans besides McDaniel signed it.
Who does it help to keep an innocent man in prison, anyway?
The key witness in Strickland’s 1979 trial recanted her testimony and apologized long ago. The real killers confessed. Another suspect told investigators there was not one person more innocent of a crime than Strickland, who is now 61 and uses a wheelchair.
Yet, Parson remains unmoved.
There are some potential and perceived miscarriages of justice that do make his heart pound faster. For instance, he was quick to announce that if gun-waving Mark and Patricia McCloskey were ever convicted, he would immediately pardon them.
So sorry, Kevin Strickland, but Parson’s priorities and definition of fairness dictate that it’s the back of the line for you. After 40 years in a cell where you should never have spent a single night, what’s the hurry?