Man to Be Freed After Serving 36 Years for Stealing $50

Alabama man was sentenced to life without parole
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 30, 2019 3:27 AM CDT
Man to Be Freed After Serving 36 Years for Stealing $50
In this Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019 photo, Alvin Kennard sits in the courtroom before his hearing in Bessemer, Ala.   (Ivana Hrynkiw/The Birmingham News via AP)

An Alabama man who has served close to 36 years in prison for robbing a bakery with a pocket knife will be free within days. Alvin Kennard was 22 when he was sentenced to life without parole for the 1983 crime, in which nobody was injured and he made off with just $50.75, the Washington Post reports. When he was 18, he pleaded guilty to three felonies in connection with a break-in at an unoccupied gas station, leading to a harsh mandatory sentence for the bakery robbery under the state's Habitual Felony Offenders Act. At a hearing Wednesday, he was resentenced to time served. Kennard's attorney, Carla Crowder, tells ABC that Judge David Carpenter "went out of his way" to deal with the case after noticing "how odd it seemed that someone was serving life without parole for a $50 robbery."

During the hearing, Kennard, now 58, said he hopes to live with his family and work as a carpenter after his release. Lawyers described him as an exemplary prisoner who has been living in the honor dorm of the Donaldson Correction Facility and has not had a disciplinary infraction in more than a decade. "I just want to say I’m sorry for what I did," Kennard told the judge, per WIAT. "I take responsibility for what I did in the past. I want the opportunity to get it right." More than a dozen of his relatives and friends were present. Crowder says that under current sentencing laws, Kennard would have been eligible for parole after 10 years. She says more than 250 inmates sentenced under the old guidelines are still behind bars. "As incredible as this opportunity is for Mr. Kennard ... we know that there are hundreds of similarly situated incarcerated people in the state who don't have attorneys, who don’t have a voice," she says. (More Alabama stories.)

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