KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A GoFundMe fundraiser to benefit Kevin Strickland has raised more than $430,000 after he was exonerated in a 1978 triple murder that he has always said he did not commit.
Strickland, 62, was released Tuesday from the Western Missouri Correctional Center in Cameron after a judge granted Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker's motion to free him.
The Midwest Innocence Project set up the online fundraiser in June saying at the time they were confident he would be released, but he will face "many hurdles adjusting to life" on the outside. They were seeking donations to help Strickland pay for basic necessities and a place to live.
By Wednesday afternoon, GoFundMe donations had topped $434,000.
Tricia Rojo Bushnell, executive director at the Midwest Innocence Project, said the response has been overwhelming in a good way. She said every time she looks it is another surprise.
"I think it's a reminder of our shared humanity and how much people really believe that the wrongfully convicted should be compensated, right?" she said.
The response is a testament that people care about justice, she said.
"The state of Missouri isn't going to pay Kevin Strickland, but you know, strangers from all around the world are," Rojo Bushnell said.
Under Missouri's compensation law, only the prisoners who prove their innocence through a specific DNA testing statute are eligible for payments.
Exonorees such as Strickland have relied on nonprofits and other people who have been released from prison to help them build back their lives.