When Alvin Kennard was 22 years he reportedly robbed a bakery with a knife. He stole $50 and has been in prison ever since. Due to Alabama’s Habitual Felony Offender Act, known as the “three strikes law,” he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
He will now be a free man.
Circuit Judge David Carpenter resentenced Kennard to time served and will be released. CNN.com reports, “In 2013, the Alabama Sentencing Commission adopted new guidelines that allowed the judge to revisit the circumstances of Kennard’s case.”
CBS reports before the 1983 charge, “He had been convicted of two counts of burglary and one count of grand larceny, but had been given a three-year suspended sentence and put on probation.” The robbery at the bakery is what got him a life sentence.
Carla Crowder, his attorney and executive director of the Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, argued “if her client had been sentenced today, he would have received a maximum sentence of about 20 years.”
When Judge Carpenter said Kennard will be released, his niece Patricia Jones said, “All of us cried. All of us cried… We’ll just sit down and talk to him and see what he wants to do. He wants to support himself and we’re going to support him.”
At the hearing, Kennard told the judge, “I just want to say I’m sorry for what I did. I take responsibility for what I did in the past. I want the opportunity to get it right.”
Unfortunately, due to processing, it is not clear when Kennard will be released. How sad you can be locked up immediately but when it’s time to be released, there is a “process.”
Three Strikes laws disproportionately affects Black men. The ACLU reports, “Today, one in four young Black men is are under some form of criminal sanction, be it incarceration, probation or parole. Because many of these laws include drug offenses as prior ‘strikes,’ more Black than white offenders will be subject to life sentences under a ‘3 Strikes’ law.”