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Man Who Spent 20 Years In Prison For Stealing Two Shirts Finally Freed

by : Emily Brown on : 20 Apr 2021 14:06
Man Who Spent 20 Years In Prison For Stealing Two Shirts Finally Freedipno/Instagram

A 67-year-old man has been released from prison after serving 20 years of a 23-year sentence for stealing two shirts. 

Guy Frank reportedly stole the clothing items from the men’s department of a Saks Fifth Avenue store in September 2000, during a time when he was said to be stealing regularly to fund a heroin habit.

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He was arrested and booked on a count of theft of goods valued at less than $500, but due to a Louisiana law he found himself vulnerable to harsher sentencing.

Man freed from prison after 20 yearsThe Innocence Project/Instagram

The multiple offender law is similar to a ‘three strikes law’, but apparently does not require offenders to have been convicted of a violent crime. A 2002 state court decision cited by The Washington Post said Frank had been arrested a total of 36 times, starting in 1975, and was convicted several times for theft and for possession of cocaine.

Frank pleaded guilty to his charge of theft, but due to his prior convictions he was sentenced to more than two decades behind bars.

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The Innocence Project became aware of Frank’s case when it was flagged by its Unjust Punishment Project, and it went on to launch a successful appeal to the Orleans Parish District Attorney.

In a statement cited by WDSU News, per Complex, the organisation said:

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Even though he accepted responsibility for his crime, lawyers at District Attorney Harry Connick’s office asked that the judge find him to be a multiple offender, because he had been convicted of theft multiple times before, and to enhance his sentence.

Judge Sharon Hunter imposed on him a sentence of 23 years in the Department of Corrections without the possibility of parole.

The organisation noted that Frank’s crime was a felony at the time, but it was changed to a misdemeanor in 2010.

Police handcuffsPixabay

Detailing his release on Instagram, the Innocence Project said Frank’s case ‘gets to the heart of what is wrong with Louisiana’s multiple offender law’.

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It added, ‘He received this egregious sentence despite the fact that he was never a threat to anyone, and had never done more than steal in small amounts. His case shows how poor Black people are disproportionately affected by these extreme sentences. It is hard to imagine a White person with resources receiving this sentence for this crime.’

A GoFundMe page that has been set up to help Frank rebuild his life states that the 67-year-old ‘lost his mother, two of his brothers, his wife, and his son’ while he was in prison. Now that he is free, he hopes to become an assistant deacon and help and advise others who are struggling.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: News, Law, Louisiana, Now, prison, Theft

Credits

Complex and 2 others
  1. Complex

    Man Who Served 20 Years in Prison for Stealing 2 Shirts Freed

  2. The Washington Post

    After 20 years in prison for stealing two shirts, a Louisiana man is free

  3. The Innocence Project/Instagram

    @_ipno_