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Alvin Kennard in 1983, when he was 22 years old, stole $ 50.75 from a bakery checkout. On the basis of law no longer in force, he was sentenced to life imprisonment. At the reading of the new sentence, the whole family was present, who exulted moved: “We had been waiting for this moment for twenty years”

In 1983, when he was 22, he stole from hunger. Taken from the case of a bakery $ 50.75 but it went wrong, he was arrested, tried, sentenced to life imprisonment. Yesterday a judge ordered his release from Donaldson prison to Bessemer and Alvin Kennard, after 36 years, is free again. He is 58 years old. The disproportionate life sentence for theft had been issued under the old Habitual Felony Offender Act of Alabama, also known as the “three strikes law”. In very poor words, three possibilities of error, the fourth life sentence.

Kennard had previously been sentenced to three years of probation for three counts of second-degree burglary in 1979. This law was subsequently amended and the judges now have the opportunity to grant conditional freedom to offenders “of the fourth time”. However, when the law was changed in the early 2000s, it was not rendered retroactive, so in Kennard’s case, no re-evaluation of the case was requested. Until Judge David Carpenter came into play, intrigued by such a long sentence for a crime of theft. “This judge has done everything,” Kennard’s lawyer Carla Crowder told ABC News.

Alvin was prosecuted under Alabama’s merciless habitual offender law. His prior convictions were 2 burglaries and 1 grand larceny. No one was ever physically injured. There are more than 500 men & women in Alabama prisons like him, serving life without parole for non-homicides.
It was extraordinary to see this wrong made right, but it only happened because the right system actors were in place. I hope Alabama leaders have the courage to grant the same chance to the 500+ others like Alvin who remain locked up with no hope of release.

When the new sentence that freed him in the courtroom was read, friends and family members jumped up, clapping their hands, rejoicing, happy. “We were all crying,” said her niece, Patricia Jones. “We were talking about it from, I don’t know, over 20 years, of his release”. Kennard, who worked as a carpenter as a boy, told the judge that he wanted to try and resume his old job. He spoke to the Court seated with handcuffs and in a red and white striped uniform.

“I just want to say that I’m sorry for what I did,” he said, “I take responsibility for what I did in the past. I want the opportunity to do things right”. “The extraordinary thing about Mr. Kennard is that even when he thought he would be in prison for the rest of his life, he never gave up,” Crowder said. “For him, this is a new opportunity, he remained close to his family, he has incredible support”.

Alvin Kennard on court
Alvin Kennard on court

I just witnessed the most extraordinary moment. Judge David Carpenter in Bessemer, AL has resentenced Alvin Kennard to time served after he got life without parole for robbing a bakery of $50 in 1983. He is now 58 & was 22 when he committed the robbery.

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