Black Man Serving Life In Prison For Stealing Hedge Clippers Earns Parole

Louisiana resident Fair Wayne Bryant was granted parole after serving more than two decades in prison for stealing hedge clippers in 1997.

"Mr. Bryant was given a second chance today," Bryant's lawyer, Robert Lancaster, said.

"His life sentence, a result of an oppressive habitual sentencing scheme, came after a series of minor pecuniary crimes to fuel an untreated drug addiction. He was sentenced to a life in prison instead of given the help he needed."

Bryant was sentence to life in prison during the 1990's as a habitual offender. Prior to being convicted of stealing hedge clippers, he was arrested for stealing merchandise, forging a check for $150, armed robbery of a cab driver and stealing property from someone's home. When sentenced, his prior convictions granted the judge the opportunity to sentence him to life under the "three-strikes law."

Many legal officials have criticized "three-strikes laws" in the past. Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Johnson called the state's law a "modern manifestation" of the "Pig Laws" designed to re-enslave Black Americans for committing small crimes.

Throughout his time in prison, Bryant has worked to appeal his sentence multiple times. In fact, the Louisiana Supreme Court declined to review the case earlier this year. Luckily, the state's parole board voted unanimously to grant Bryant parole last week.

"What a relief to know that Fair will not spend the rest of his life in prison for stealing hedge clippers, especially during a deadly pandemic. And what a joy for him to have the chance to rebuild a life on the outside. We must keep pushing back against these unjust punishments," anti-death penalty activist Sister Helen Prejean tweeted.

"Fair Wayne Bryant was released from the Louisiana State Penitentiary just a little while ago. Welcome home, Fair!"

Photo: Getty Images

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