At the age 22 in 1983, Alvin Kennard was arrested and convicted of stealing $50.75 from a bakery in Bessemer, Alabama. The theft led to Kennard being arrested and charged for the crime, rightfully so. The unjust part came once he was convicted, following his conviction for stealing $50.75, Kennard was sentenced to life in prison, without parole.
On Wednesday, 36 years later, an Alabama judge, David Carpenter, re-sentenced the now-58-year-old to time served, meaning he’s set to be released within the coming days.
“I just want to say I’m sorry for what I did,” Kennard said to the judge during the hearing. “I take responsibility for what I did in the past. I want the opportunity to get it right.”
According to AL.com, the Kennard’s disproportionately harsh sentence, which certainly did not seem to fit the crime, was triggered by the Habitual Felony Offender Act, otherwise known as the “three strikes law.” Prior to stealing money from the bakery, Kennard was previously charged with burglary, and grand larceny linked to a gas station break in some years earlier. The combined sentences made him a violator of the three strikes act, which triggered the mandatory minimum for life in prison with no parole.
In 2013, Alabama made significant changes to their sentencing guidelines for cases specifically related to the three-strikes law. If Kennard committed that robbery today, the site points out, that he would have been eligible for a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life without parole. That’s honestly still a punishment that is unjust for the crime, but better than spending life in prison I suppose.
Carla Crowder, the attorney for Kennard made the argument that her client had been truly rehabilitated during his time at Donaldson Correctional Facility. She reminded the court that Kennard hadn’t received a behavior citation in 11 years or a prison disciplinary citation in 14 years, according to ABC News.
“When I first went to visit Kennard, the guard was chatting with me,” Crowder said to ABC News, “when he saw who I was visiting, he said, ‘That’s one that you could let him out and he wouldn’t cause any more trouble.'”
Crowder told ABC News next for Kennard is for him to be processed by the Alabama Department of Corrections, once that happens, he should be freed within a few days later.