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Exonerees, nonprofits discuss what freedom could look like for Kevin Strickland

Posted at 4:13 PM, Nov 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-11 19:19:40-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kevin Strickland is still waiting for a decision that will determine if he's released from prison after spending 43 years behind bars.

Strickland has maintained his innocence in a 1978 triple homicide, though he was convicted. An evidentiary hearing was held in Jackson County Circuit Court this week to determine if Strickland should be released.

If he is released, several nonprofits offer help to transition back into society.

There are others who understand his situation, like Ricky Kidd.

Kidd was wrongfully convicted and spent 23 years in prison before his release in 2019. Kidd said he relied on counseling to cope with his time behind bars.

His advice to Strickland: "Surround yourself with good people who can really help [you] navigate the many nuances and complexities his newfound freedom will have," Kidd said.

Lamonte McIntyre is another exoneree who has been watching the Strickland hearing closely. He said it stirs emotions.

"It's frustrating to see it continuously happen. Everyday we hear of another innocent person getting out of prison or another person fighting to get his freedom back when he shouldn't have been in that situation in the first place," McIntyre said.

McIntyre spent 23 years in prison before his exoneration in 2017.

"It was so frustrating trying to start, because I started with nothing. I didn't have any identity, I didn't even have an ID to get a driver's license," McIntyre said. "I had to prove I was Lamonte McIntyre first to even get a driver's license."

McIntyre turned his frustration into action. He's the co-founder of Miracle of Innocence. The nonprofit helps formerly incarcerated people get resources to transition back into society.

Journey to New Life is another nonprofit helping former inmates after they get out of prison.

"We don't believe there's any throw-away people and so we help them so they don't give up," Rita Flynn, co-founder of Journey of to New Life, said.

The nonprofit helps people find work, housing, obtain a state ID and other documents, as well as clothes and furniture for people starting over.

Flynn, a former parole officer, said a little help could provide hope.

"A lot of times you get discouraged and you need people there to back you up and support you. You need the community to help and be there for you," she said.