A candid talk from Kevin Strickland after 100 days of freedom

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) – It’s been 100 days since Kevin Strickland was released from the Western Missouri Correctional Center in Cameron, Missouri.

It was just a blink of an eye after spending 43 years in custody for a crime for which a judge found him not guilty.

Strickland reached out to KCTV5 to thank Kansas City for its support. He looks very good. He told us he lost 20 pounds and hit the local gym. He is awaiting return surgery and hopes to be wheelchair-free.

Adjusting to this new life of freedom was not without challenges.

Strickland said: “I am grateful for what they have done for me. “I want them to know that I will go with them and not abuse their love.”

Strickland told us he was worried about becoming homeless after being released. But Kansas City has generously supported him through its GoFundMe page. More than $1.7 million has been raised.

“I just wanted to thank (everyone) and let them know that I don’t think I’m going to have to live under that bridge,” he said.

Strickland is receiving support from attorneys for the Midwest Innocence Project, social workers, his family, and Ricky Kidd. Kidd understood better than most what Strickland was going through. He was freed in August 2019 after serving 23 years in prison before being exonerated.

Strickland said: “Ricky Kidd is very important. “He’s helping me navigate my way.”

Adjusting to this new life of freedom was not without challenges.

Technology has changed lives in the 43 years of Strickland’s absence. He laughs about needing help with self-checkout at a store. He received a call on his smartphone and was unable to answer, “had to call them back.”

And driving is a completely different experience.

“The navigation system and the thing that can talk to you, all the buttons, switches and controls — like a spaceship, but he adds, “It’s exciting,” says Strickland. It’s refreshing — it’s freedom. ”

Strickland says he loves to cook and bake. He told us he made a cheesecake for his daughter, but he didn’t like to eat, “In fact, that kind of food disgusts me.” He claims that the prison food has conditioned his body into “raw things” so when he eats “the good stuff” his body doesn’t accept it.

“So I found myself making a meal in prison,” he told us. Ramen with tuna, jalapeno, cheese and crackers. “It went down well, it really happened.”

Strickland has moved out of town – he says he needs space. He has a small yard and a fixed-term lease. He is taking his time determining his next steps and figuring out his place in the world. First, he wants to be able to walk and is about to get new fishing equipment.

Ultimately, he wants to work with other exonerations to raise awareness and fight for compensation for those wrongly convicted.

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