“Fair” may be his first name, but the life sentence 63-year-old Fair Wayne Bryant (63) received in 1997 was anything but fair, according to his supporters.
And so did the state government of Louisiana, which earlier this month granted Bryant parole after nearly 24 years in captivity.
The photo above literally shows Bryan’s first step into freedom after being released from prison on Thursday.
Bryant was found guilty of burglary in 1997 after stealing a hedge trimmer from a property, and was sentenced to life in prison, writes CNN.
The 63-year-old is one of many Americans who have had to serve long prison sentences after partly banal and non-serious offenses due to the so-called “three strikes” laws.
A total of 28 states passed a variant of this legislation in the 1990s, which in practice states that if you are convicted three times, you can automatically be sentenced to life in prison after the third sentence.
Because Bryant was convicted of attempted armed robbery in 1979, possession of stolen goods in 1987, attempted fraud in 1989 and attempted burglary in 1992, the punishment was severe for the theft he committed in 1997.
And that is precisely why Bryant’s lawyers went to court in 2018. It ended in a legal drama that in practice could have shattered the 63-year-old’s hope of ever being released from prison.
For in August this year, the Louisiana Supreme Court concluded that the verdict against Bryant not was unlawful, and that they thus had no opportunity to repeal it.
But the court’s decision was not unanimous.
The state’s Supreme Court Justice Bernette Johnson dissented, writing, among other things, that the sentencing was “excessive and disproportionate to the crime,” CNN wrote in August, when the decision was made.
This was also how the state authorities justified why they now wanted to release Bryant on probation.
The tribunal is uncertain
The Probation Board discussed Bryant’s case on Thursday this week in an open but digital hearing. There, some of the members expressed doubts about whether it was right to give Bryant a parole.
“By all accounts, you have a terrible criminal record,” said Tony Marabela, one of the members of the tribunal, according to the online newspaper The Lens, which therefore expressed doubts about what he should vote for.
But in the end, Marabela, and the other two members of the tribunal, landed on probation Bryant, in exchange for Bryant following the follow-up from the nonprofit Louisiana Parole Project, which supported the 63-year-old’s application.
– Victory in overtime
And on Thursday, Bryant left Louisiana State Prison, the United States’ largest high-security prison with about 5,000 inmates.
“While nothing can remedy all the years Bryant lost to this extreme and unjust sentence, today’s decision on parole is a victory in overtime for Bryant, his family and the fight for equal justice for all,” said Alanah Odoms, head of the ACLU’s civil rights organization. Louisiana.
Now the ideal foundation Louisiana Parole Project will help Bryant with his newfound freedom, the foundation itself states.