Man on life sentence for stealing $50 gets pardon after 36 years

More than three decades ago, Alvin Kennard was given a life sentence without parole for robbery.

Kinnard, then just 22 years old, has stolen $50.70 from a Bessemer bakery.

Kennard has served 36 years of that life sentence, and Wednesday appeared in court for a hearing to change his sentence to life with parole, and not only was the change granted, but Jefferson County Bessemer Cutoff Circuit Judge David Carpenter resentenced Kennard to time served, and ordered his release from prison.

So, how did this happen?

As Assistant District Attorney Lane Tolbert said in an Alabama Media Group report, “Let me be clear, this is not about $50.” Tolbert was referring to Alabama’s Habitual Felony Offender Act, which requires a sentence of life without parole for previous offenders. When he was 18, Kennard had been charged with burglary, grand larceny, and receiving stolen property in connection with a break-in at an unoccupied service station.

Those prior crimes led to his sentence under the Habitual Felony Offender Act in 1984.

However, Alabama in 2013 created the Alabama Sentencing Commission which adopted new sentencing guidelines. Under those guidelines, Kennard would have been eligible for a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life with the possibility of parole.

Kennard’s attorney Carla Crowder of the Alabama Appleseed Center said Kinnard had been a model inmate while at the Donaldson Correctional Facility.

Kennard told the court that if released, he would live with family in Bessemer and work in carpentry.

The court, however, adds that Kennard will have to be processed out by the Alabama Department of Corrections before his official release.