Kansas City Star. May 20, 2021.
Editorial: Missouri to innocent people released from prison: Our bad, thanks for coming
Ricky Kidd spent 23 years in prison for a double murder he did not commit. He’s free now, but has yet to receive a dime in compensation from the state of Missouri.
Larry Callanan, who spent 25 years behind bars for a murder he didn’t commit, was released last summer without so as much as a wooden nickel.
“Larry is one of the lucky ones,” says his St. Louis-based attorney, Javad Khazaeli. That’s because Callanan found stable employment. “He has a good-paying union job with benefits. He has adjusted as well as possible, unlike most people in this situation.” In his free time, he tries to help other wrongfully convicted Missourians, like Lamar Johnson, who is still in prison.
Exonerated people in Missouri are not offered any sort of relief by the state when they are released.
Kevin Strickland has maintained his innocence for more than four decades. He still sits in a Missouri prison despite evidence showing he most likely did not commit the crime he was accused of.
Strickland’s murder conviction came into doubt after the only eyewitness at his trial recanted her testimony. After reading The Star’s coverage of the case, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker recently announced her office’s conviction integrity unit had also found clear and compelling evidence that Strickland is actually innocent. She has asked for his immediate release.
The Missouri Supreme Court will ultimately decide. It typically orders the state attorney general’s office to respond first. Missouri AG Eric Schmitt, who is busy running for the U.S. Senate and suing China over COVID-19, has declined comment. But under both Republicans and Democrats, that office has opposed revisiting almost every wrongful conviction case for more than 20 years.
And even if Strickland is freed, he will have to navigate his new life with no help from the state. Court filings seek his immediate release from prison, but with no money, housing, transportation and access to physical and mental health services, Strickland’s readjustment to society would be so much more difficult than it has to be.
In Missouri, only those exonerated by DNA evidence are eligible for financial relief. Legislation sponsored by Democratic state Rep. LaKeySha Bosley of St. Louis to provide monetary payments and other benefits to other exonerees has gone nowhere over the last two sessions.
Kansas pays exonerated prisoners $65,000 per year for every year spent in prison and $25,000 for every year wrongfully on probation or parole. Mental health and other social services are included in the compensation package, as are housing and tuition assistance and financial literacy training. The state also offers expungement of the wrongful conviction at no cost, a non-monetary benefit not available to innocent people in Missouri.
Iowa and Nebraska offer exonerees similar post-relief compensation.
Missouri should acknowledge its responsibility and pay up, too.
CORRECTION: This editorial originally contained inaccurate information about exonerees from another state. The line has been removed from this version.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch. May 22, 2021.
Editorial: Government has a responsibility to help Kinloch
Whenever the city name Kinloch comes up in the news, the result almost never is good. There’s the park shooting in early May that left two dead at a block party. Other reports underscore persistent corruption and mismanagement. And no matter how hard residents might try to keep the streets clean, Kinloch has clearly become a regional dumping ground for people’s bulk trash — a problem nearby Wellston also is experiencing, albeit with much greater attention being paid recently. With street after street full of abandoned buildings and empty lots in Kinloch, there aren’t many witnesses to catch illegal dumpers in the act.
That’s the sad story of Missouri’s first Black city with a rich and important history. Its high rates of poverty (more than 51%) and unemployment, along with decades of neglect and a minuscule tax base, have left the historic community in disrepair and left its people feeling justifiably hopeless. Without resources to fix itself up, Kinloch needs the state, federal government, the county and perhaps even St. Louis city to step up and help preserve what’s left of that historic town before it’s too late.
Kinloch is home to a lot of firsts. The old Kinloch Airfield was where Teddy Roosevelt became the first president to fly in an airplane in 1910. The airfield is also believed to be home to the first control tower, the first aerial photo, and the first parachute jump. Unfortunately, it was the airfield’s success that eventually contributed to Kinloch’s demise after it became the sprawling site known today as St. Louis Lambert International Airport.
Black entrepreneurship and homeownership thrived in the city despite redlining and racist housing policies elsewhere in the postwar era. But in the 1980s, St. Louis city began buying up property in and around Kinloch for airport expansion, effectively destroying the town. Between 1990 and 2000, the population of Kinloch dropped by 75%.
Racist and discriminatory governmental policies helped lead to the growth of Kinloch as a Black community in the mid- and late-20th century, as Blacks could find few other places to buy homes in the region because of laws and deed restrictions prohibiting selling houses to nonwhites. Given that history, the symbolism of Kinloch’s survival is huge. It doesn’t deserve to go down in history as an eyesore and illegal garbage dump.
Kinloch came into existence because of racist, discriminatory government policies at the federal, state and local level. Now government has a responsibility to help the roughly 300 residents left in Kinloch and preserve the important history that community represents.
A new generation of politicians, including St. Louis’ first Black woman mayor, should recognize a responsibility to pay more than just lip service to the Kinloch cause. Real resources need to be dedicated to help right the wrongs of the past that resulted in mass loss of wealth, identity and community. The history of Kinloch is the history of race in St. Louis, the state of Missouri, and America.
Jefferson City News Tribune. May 22, 2021.
Editorial: How do we want to be remembered?
How should future Missourians remember us? We have a chance to influence that now. As we recently reported, the Missouri Historical Society is seeking submissions for a Bicentennial Time Capsule to commemorate Missouri’s bicentennial this year.
How should future Missourians remember us? We have a chance to influence that now.
As we recently reported, the Missouri Historical Society is seeking submissions for a Bicentennial Time Capsule to commemorate Missouri’s bicentennial this year.
Clubs, schools, community groups, businesses and government agencies are encouraged to submit items.
Newspapers are typical items, but what about recent fashion trends?
They might not be able to fit a pair of skinny or ripped jeans in a time capsule. What about a set of Apple AirPods? What about a blue surgical mask? It’s probably not how we want to be remembered, but it would certainly reflect reality.
How about a photo of the Tesla charger at Culver’s here in Jefferson City? Will this cutting-edge technology be as useless as a Betamax by the time the capsule is opened 25 years from now? Should we put modern-day images and letters on a thumb drive? That might be a cruel trick to challenge a future society to find an equally antiquated computer to open the files.
One thing is for sure: We don’t want what happened in Derry, New Hampshire to happen here. They recently opened a time capsule from 50 years ago and it was empty. No one seems to know whether it was raided or if anything was put into it in the first place.
The deadline to submit to the time capsule is Aug. 10, Missouri Statehood Day. All Missouri- based profit and nonprofit organizations are eligible to contribute three items: one to represent their past, one to represent their present and a note to future Missourians. Items should measure no larger than 8.5 x 14 inches — i.e., no larger than legal size paper — and combined be no more than a quarter-inch thick. All submissions need to be in printed form and not electronic.
An online registration form on missouri2021.org is required for all submissions and items should be mailed to: The State Historical Society of Missouri, Attn: Time Capsule, 605 Elm St., Columbia, Missouri, 65201.
An event to commemorate the time capsule will be Aug. 27 in St. Louis.
We encourage you to make submissions as a way to retain our history and “pay it forward” to the next generation.