Alabama man who spent 36 years in prison for stealing $50 to be released soon

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A man from Alabama who served 36 years in prison for stealing $50.75 from a bakery will soon be released, according to reports.

In 1983, Alvin Kennard, now 58, was convicted of first-degree robbery in connection with the January 24, 1983 theft at Highlands Bakery and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, under Alabama’s Habitual Felony Offender Act. Court papers show $50.75 was stolen in the incident, AL.com reported.

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

He pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree burglary for that incident, according to the report. He was given a suspended sentence of three years’ probation.

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

At the end of a Wednesday hearing, the judge determined that Kennard had served his time.

When the judge asked who would support Kennard upon his release, more than a dozen loved ones rose from their seats, chanting, “Thank you, Jesus.”

Prosecutors from the Jefferson County Bessemer Cutoff District Attorney’s Office did not oppose Kennard’s change in sentence.

“But let me be clear, this is not about $50,” Assistant District Attorney Lane Tolbert said in court.

Back in 2013, Alabama created a state sentencing commission and adopted sentence guidelines. If Alvin Kennard had committed first-degree robbery and was sentenced today, he would have been eligible for a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life with the possibility of parole, according to the report.

Kennard did not walk out of court a free man on Wednesday. He will have to be processed out by the Alabama Department of Corrections. But no information was provided by Kennard’s attorney as to how long that process could take.

Kennard said that if released, he will live with his family in Bessemer and start carpentry work.

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

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