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‘I’m sorry’ Alabama man who served 36 years jail for stealing $50.75 to be released

Alvin Kennard Bessemer Alabama
Pictured, Alvin Kennard. Bessemer, Alabama man.
Alvin Kennard Bessemer Alabama
Pictured, Alvin Kennard. Bessemer, Alabama man.

Alvin Kennard Bessemer, Alabama man to be freed after serving 36 years jail after stealing $50.75 from a bakery. 

Defining crime and punishment. An Alabama man who spent 36 years behind bars for stealing $50.75 from a bakery will soon be a free man. The jailed man’s impending release comes after earlier in the week apologizing to a judge fo his crime. 

‘I’m sorry for what I did,’ Alvin Kennard, 58, told Jefferson County Bessemer Cutoff Circuit Judge David Carpenter on Wednesday. ‘I was wrong.’

Kennard, a then 22 year old man was convicted of first-degree robbery in connection to the January 1983 theft at Highlands Bakery and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, under Alabama’s Habitual Felony Offender Act, AL.com reported.

A knife-wielding Kennard was arrested after demanded cash from the bakery and managing to make off with just over $50.75 from the business.

Four years earlier, he was charged with burglary, grand larceny and receiving stolen property in connection to a break-in at an unoccupied service station, according to the report.

For that incident, he pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree burglary, and was handed a suspended sentence of three years on probation. 

Because of those prior offenses — which were not Class A felonies — Kennard was sentenced under the Habitual Felony Offender Act in 1984.

‘But let me be clear, this is not about $50.’

During a Wednesday hearing to determine whether Kennard should be released, the jailed man said he’d live with family in Bessemer and do carpentry work.

When Circuit Judge David Carpenter asked who would support the incarcerated man upon his release, more than a dozen family members rose from their seats, chanting, ‘Thank you Jesus.’

Kennard’s release won’t be immediate — he’ll have to be processed out by the Alabama Department of Corrections, and it’s not clear how long that will take, CBS 42 reported.

County prosecutors aware of the rebuke of Kennard having been jailed for over 36 years for a seemingly innocuous crime have not contested the man’s impending release.

‘But let me be clear, this is not about $50,’ Assistant District Attorney Lane Tolbert said.

Back in 2013, Alabama launched a state sentencing commission that laid down sentence guidelines.

If Kennard had been sentenced for first-degree robbery today, his minimum sentence would be 10 years, and the maximum would be life with the possibility of parole, according to the report.

Following news of Kennard’s impending release, commentators on social media questioned Alabama’s sentencing laws, while others wondered how white collar criminals convicted of million dollar schemes are sentenced to far less time, while others wondered to what degree the punishment was a negation of the downtrodden and underclass and primarily black folk in the region.