An Alabama man is set to be released from prison after spending much of his life in prison for stealing $50.75 from a bakery 36 years ago.
Alvin Kennard was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, a sentence that has now been altered, in 1984. He was 22-years-old at the time of conviction. The theft was his fourth offense and the then-current state law mandated there was no other course of action for punishment than life in prison.
Kennard will now be released as a 58-year-old man after the law, the Habitual Felony Offender Act has been changed and provides the opportunity to receive parole after a fourth crime. ABC News reports the law was changed in the early 2000s but did not immediately impact past sentences. Kennard’s case was addressed due to the simple curiosity of a judge.
“The judge in this case noticed how odd it seemed that someone was serving life without parole for a $50 robbery,” said Kennard’s attorney, Carla Crowder.
That judge is Jefferson County Bessemer Cutoff Circuit Judge David Carpenter, who Crowder stated “kind of went out of his way,” according to ABC News
According to Assistant District Attorney Bill North, Kennard’s behavior in prison assisted in the decision to release him in the forthcoming days on time served.
Prior to the $50 robbery, Kennard pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree burglary in 1979 at age 18. Those three charges were all from one incident, where he participated in the break-in of a service station and resulted in three years of probation. The robbery of the bakery was committed with a knife and while it did not result in injuries, it did land him behind bars for the lengthy amount of time.
In comparison to today, the same crime would provide a 10-year minimum and 21-year maximum in prison. While Kennard is free, the law still has nearly 250 prisoners who are impacted by previous laws and do not have the representation to possibly receive resentencing.
Kennard’s resentencing was attended by friends and family, including a niece who regularly visited him and he will now have a home to head to once he leaves prison.