One week after Kevin Strickland was exonerated in relation to a 1978 triple homicide he says he didn't commit, a GoFundMe fundraiser for him grew to more than $1 million.
It was established by a group called Midwest Innocence Project at the end of June, when the group said it was confident he would be released, but would face "many hurdles" in adjusting to life on the outside. To help Strickland cover basic expenses and a place to live, the organization was seeking donations.
Over 6,500 donations raised $381,616 by noon Wednesday, far exceeding the $150k goal. A revised $430,000 goal was set.
Over 7,500 donors contributed $434,133 to the fundraiser by 4 PM. The total rose to more than $690,000 by Wednesday night.
By 8 AM on Thursday, it was $821,108. On Thursday, 15,400 people had donated $900,742 through the fundraiser.
Midwest Innocence Project executive director Tricia Rojo Bushnell said the response has been overwhelming. Each time she looks, it astonishes her more and more.
This is a reminder of how much people believe that the wrongfully convicted should be compensated.
She said the response shows people care about justice.
Rojo Bushnell said, "The state of Missouri isn't going to pay Kevin Strickland, but strangers from all over the world are.".
In Missouri, prisoner compensation is only available to those who prove their innocence with DNA testing.
In Strickland's case, nonprofit organizations and other exonerees helped him rebuild his life.
Besides having the longest wrongful conviction in Missouri history, Strickland will not receive assistance from a parole officer to find counseling, housing or work.
Many of the donors left encouraging messages for Strickland and criticized Missouri for its lack of compensation for people like him.
Mark Edgington wrote, "I hope that the fact that so many care, will help you to enjoy each day as it comes."
According to Cheryl M. Furr, even Mississippi and Alabama, long at the bottom of the list for education, health care, etc., are eligible for wrongful conviction reimbursement. The state of Missouri, as well as any other state with such a backward attitude, should be ashamed.
Geraldine Woolfolk praised his lawyers and everyone who fought for his rights. In a small gesture of support, Woolfolk's family hopes to remind Strickland of the generosity of people in this country.
She wrote, "My family and I are incredulous over this miscarriage of justice.". She added: "It's cruel that the state where he resides will not compensate him for the years stolen from him."
The value of stolen decades and health cannot be approximated by any fundraising goal, let alone a new life against all odds, as Natalya Cherry put it.
According to Karen Teitel, money can't buy back the four-plus decades.
Tetel wrote, "I hope the massive support for Mr. Strickland will allow him to live the rest of his life in comfort and allow him to experience wonderful things."
According to one donor, Strickland is the same age as her.
“I'm trying to imagine being wrongfully convicted when I was 18 and having spent all my adult life in prison for a crime I didn't commit - and then getting no compensation from the state that put me there” wrote Tina Rhea.