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Louisiana Man Get Parole After Serving 23 Years To Steal Hedge Clipper: NPR

The Louisiana Supreme Court building is depicted in New Orleans. Fairway Bryant was convicted of stealing a hedge clipper in 1997 and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Bill Haver / AP


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The Louisiana Supreme Court building is depicted in New Orleans. Fairway Bryant was convicted of stealing a hedge clipper in 1997 and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Bill Haver / AP

A Louisiana man sentenced to life imprisonment for stealing a pair of hedge clippers in 1997 was released on Thursday after spending more than 20 years in prison for his crimes.

That act of simple robbery usually does not lead to life imprisonment. But in the last two decades, Fairway Bryant has committed four other felony charges: armed robbery of taxi drivers, theft of goods from stores, counterfeiting $ 150 checks, and theft of property from someone’s home. Did.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment because Louisiana had a so-called “addict” law against people convicted of multiple felony charges, and Bryant’s 1979 armed robbery was considered a “violent” crime. ..

Brian’s story contributed to the perception of the injustice of the habitual criminal law, also known colloquially as the “three-strikes law.” Louisiana Chief Justice Bernette Johnson called state law the “modern manifestation” of 19th-century “pig law” with the aim of reenslaving African Americans for misdemeanor. Bryant is black.

Bryant stayed behind the bar until last week, despite multiple appeals, including Bryant’s failure to bring the decision to the Louisiana Supreme Court again this year. With a 3-0 decision, the state parole committee gave the 63-year-old Bryant his freedom.

“Mr. Bryant was given a second chance today,” Bryant’s attorney Robert Lancaster told The New York Times at his parole hearing. “His life imprisonment was the result of a repressive habitual judgment system and came after a series of minor monetary crimes that encouraged untreated drug addiction. He lived instead of being given the help he needed. I was sentenced. “

At an online parole hearing on Thursday, the Parole Commission focused on Bryant’s extensive arrest record, saying that Bryant could have stolen more goods in 1997 if the homeowner did not drive him away. Stated. They also discussed the history of his alcohol and cocaine use.

“I had a drug problem,” Bryant told the Associated Press. “But it took me 24 years to recognize the problem and constantly communicate with the Lord to solve it.”

Brian must attend an anonymous meeting of alcoholics, comply with the 9 pm curfew, and provide social service as a condition of release.

As part of the 2017 Comprehensive Criminal Justice Reform Package, the Louisiana State Legislature amended the habitual criminal law and reduced some of the compulsory decisions to match similar laws in other states. It was. And in 2019, Governor John Bel Edwards approved a new law that makes it difficult for prosecutors to seek longer judgments because of previous crimes.

The American Civil Liberties Union in Louisiana calls for the state to go further. Alana Odoms, Secretary-General of Louisiana, said:

The Louisiana Parole Project, which worked on this case, has launched Bryant’s GoFundMe page. They say the donation goes to his driving school, clothing, personal belongings, and “another urgent need to help ensure a successful return to society.”



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