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Man Served 36 Years In Prison For Stealing $50

A man who was sentenced to life in prison for robbing a bakery of US$50.75 more than three decades ago is set to be released. 

Alvin Kennard was 22 years old when he committed the robbery and stole the money in 1983.

After serving 36 years in an Alabama correctional facility in the city of Bessemer, Kennard will soon be free after a judge re-sentenced him to time served.

Local media outlets have reported Circuit Judge David Carpenter ordered his release from prison on Wednesday (local time), which will be processed by the Alabama Department of  Corrections.

Journalists covering the case reported the man's family and friends wept with joy as Carpenter announced his decision.

Court records state Kennard was prosecuted under Alabama state's repeat offender law, called the Habitual Felony Offender Act, which can result in a life prison -- sometimes, in the case of Kennard, without the possibility of parole -- depending on a person's criminal record.

Under the law, any previous conviction above a certain class will lead to a significantly longer prison sentence.

Kennard was previously charged with two burglaries and one grand larceny -- theft of a significant amount of personal property. No one was ever physically injured in his crimes.

He reportedly pleaded guilty to each count, and was eligible for a mandatory life sentence without parole.

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In recent years, Alabama has reconsidered its sentencing laws. Kennard's attorney, Carla Crowder, argued he would have received a maximum sentence of 20 years under new guidelines, according to CBS42.

Crowder is the executive director of The Alabama Appleseed Centre for Law and Justice -- a nonprofit legal advocacy group which took on Kennard's case after it was spotted by a compassionate Judge.

During the hearing, she pointed out Kennard had a strong support base, who were present in the courtroom.

“We have no doubt that he would do well on the outside,” she said.

“When we spoke this morning, he brought up that he just wants to work. I think that is commendable.”

Alvin Kennard was sentenced to life in prison in 1983 for stealing $50 from a bakery. Photo: AP

When asked about his plans if he were to be released, Kennard said he wanted to work as a carpenter and live with his family in Bessemer.

"I just want to say I'm sorry for what I did," he said, ahead of the decision.

"I take responsibility for what I did in the past. I want the opportunity to get it right."

Then, he got his wish.

It remains unclear when Kennard will be released.

Featured image: AP