MAIP files Petition for an Absolute Pardon on behalf of Michael McAlister
On April 8, 2015, MAIP, Miller & Chevalier, and the Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney filed an extraordinary Joint Petition for an Absolute Pardon on behalf of Michael McAlister, who has spent more than 29 years in prison for an attempted rape he did not commit.
The men who arrested and prosecuted Mr. McAlister have believed in his innocence for more than 20 years. However, even though his sentence ended 84 days ago, Mr. McAlister remains incarcerated because the Virginia Attorney General’s Office is seeking to civilly commit him as a sexually violent predator, a designation for which Mr. McAlister would not be eligible but for his 1986 wrongful conviction.
Michael Herring, the current Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney, said that “In the history of my law practice, I am unaware of any other case where every law enforcement person who had a significant role to play in the conviction of an individual has voiced such strong doubt about his guilt.”
Under Virginia law, however, this is not enough to secure Mr. McAlister’s freedom. Instead, Mr. McAlister remains in prison beyond his mandatory release date while the civil commitment process plays itself out in the courts. Further, that process does not even allow him to raise his innocence of the underlying offense. Thus, Mr. McAlister is seeking an expedited absolute pardon to stop the civil commitment process, avoid a second unjust decision to restrict his liberty, and be released from prison as a truly free man – not a sex offender – for the first time in almost three decades.
Governor McAuliffe is the only person in Virginia with the power to end Mr. McAlister’s 29-year nightmare for good, and we hope he is going to act quickly to do justice and return Mr. McAlister to his mother and daughters.