A man who was sentenced to life behind bars without parole for stealing $50.75 from a bakery in his 20s is set to be released after serving 36 years in prison, according to reports.
Alvin Kennard was convicted of first degree robbery when he was just 22 years old was first imprisoned in 1983.
Now, the 58-year-old will finally be freed after a judge ordered his release from Donaldson correctional facility in Bessemer, Alabama.
Kennard’s sentence was said to be unusually harsh under Alabama’s old Habitual Felony Offender Act, which is commonly referred to as the ‘three strikes law’. He had previously been sentenced to three years probation for three counts of second-degree burglary in 1979.
The prisoner’s friends and family all cheered when circuit judge David Carpenter re-sentenced him to time served on Wednesday.
His niece Patricia Jones told WBRC:
All of us [were] crying. We’ve been talking about it for, I don’t know, 20-plus years, about being free.
He says he wants to get him a job, he wants to support himself, and we’re going to support him.
Kennard previously worked in carpentry and construction, and reportedly told the judge he’d like to continue in this line of work.
His attorney, Carla Crowder, who is also the executive director of the Alabama Appleseed Centre for Law and Justice, said Kennard was ‘overwhelmed’ by the result of his re-sentencing.
As per The Guardian, she said:
What’s extraordinary about Mr Kennard is that even when he thought he was going to be in prison for the rest of his life, he really turned his life around.
He is overwhelmed at this opportunity, but has remained close with his family, so he has incredible support.
Crowder was appointed to Kennard’s case after it was spotted by a compassionate judge, and she says there are still hundreds of prisoners in similar situations because they do not have their own attorneys.
It’s incredibly unfair and unjust the hundreds of people in Alabama serving life without parole for nonviolent, non-homicide crimes.
Alabama’s three strikes law has resulted in longer sentences for around 27 per cent of inmates serving time in the state’s prison system. Many people believe the law is overly harsh and has contributed to overcrowding in facilities.
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Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining the LADbible Group team in 2017.