In 2000, Cornealious "Mike" Anderson was convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to 13 years in prison. According to the Daily Mail, after he exhausted his appeals, the state simply forgot about him due to a clerical error.
In the mean time, Anderson cleaned up his life. He got married, had four children, coached football, started a business, and bought a home. He did not try to conceal his identity or his whereabouts.
Then, when Anderson should have been released last summer, the prison system realized that he had never been incarcerated. A SWAT team came crashing through his front door and hauled him off to prison.
The original crime for which Anderson was convicted occurred in 1999, when Anderson and another man robbed Burger King using a BB gun. The pair was later apprehended when witnesses were able to recall the license plate number.
After being taken to prison, Anderson told the Associated Press, "Everybody here has been positive, the prisoners and the correctional officers. I've had other prisoners tell me it gives them hope."
Anderson's attorneys have filed a motion asking that the state release him, saying that incarcerating him after so much time has passed constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. The district attorney is expected to respond in the next week.
In a statement to CBS, Tim Lohmar, the prosecutor in the county of Anderson's conviction, admitted that Anderson seemed rehabilitated but he was unmoved by that fact. He said, "It's very difficult for me to say, 'We can create an exception, and we can allow somebody who has found a way - whether it was by his own doing or otherwise - to not have to serve the sentence.'"
Despite his extraordinary circumstances, Anderson remained optimistic, telling CBS, "I'm a man of faith, and I believe my chances are in the hands of God, 100 percent favorable my way, and I have to believe that. I can't believe anything else."
Keri Blakinger is a freelance writer and prison reform activist. Follow her on Twitter @keribla or visit her blog for a steady stream of prison reform stories.