An Alabama judge has ordered that a man who robbed a bakery of $50.75 (£41.72) be released from his life sentence. Alvin Kennard, 58, was handed the harsh sentence under strict rules introduced in the 1970s to deter repeat offenders.
The ruling provoked an emotional reaction from friends and family, who have been visiting Kennard throughout his incarceration.
His lawyer, Carla Crowder, said he was “overwhelmed at this opportunity” and would be looked after by family. He wanted to take up his former job as a carpenter, she added.
In 1983, when he was 22 years old, Kennard robbed a bakery with a knife. Although there were no injuries, he was sentenced to life without parole. Parole is the release of a prisoner to supervision in the community after he/she has completed a part of his/her sentence in an institution
He had previously pleaded guilty to a burglary, meaning he had breached the old Habitual Felony Offender Act, otherwise known as the Three Strikes Law. The law has now been changed to allow the possibility of parole.
Appearing in his red-striped prison uniform, Kennard told the judge he took full responsibility for his actions. His family and friends jumped up, cheering and hugging him as the ruling was made.