JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ala. – An Alabama man who was sentenced to life in prison more than 35 years ago after he was convicted of stealing $50.75 from a bakery is scheduled to be released from prison.
Alvin Kennard, 58, was just 22 in 1984 when he was convicted of the theft and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, according to news reports.
At the time, the judge had no other legal recourse but to sentence Kennard to life because the theft was his fourth offense, ABC News reported.
The law Kennard was sentenced under called the Habitual Felony Offender Act, or the three strikes law, has now been changed, allowing judges the discretion to sentence fourth time offenders to the possibility of parole, according to ABC.
It just so happened Kennard’s case crossed the desk of a sympathetic judge, which led to his re-sentencing, in addition to good behavior in prison.
“The judge in this case noticed how odd it seemed that someone was serving life without parole for a $50 robbery,” Kennard’s attorney, Carla Crowder, told ABC.
The judge was Jefferson County Bessemer Cutoff Circuit Judge David Carpenter.
“This was a judge that kind of went out of his way,” Crowder said.
Kennard was eligible to be sentenced under the three strikes law in 1984 because of charges of burglary and grand larceny in 1979, and a guilty plea in a break-in case, AL.com reported.
Crowder told WIAT-TV that, under new sentencing guidelines, the inmate would have received a maximum of 20 years in prison with the possibility of parole in 10 to 15.
Kennard apologized for his past crimes before he was resentenced, WIAT reported.
“I just want to say I’m sorry for what I did,” Kennard said.
“I take responsibility for what I did in the past. I want the opportunity to get it right,” he said.
Kennard is expected to be released in the next few days.
Crowder told ABC that there are many more people in priosn under the same circumstances as Kennard and as many as 250 without attorneys to push for resentencing in their cases.