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Louisiana Upholds Life Sentence to Black Man For Stealing Hedge Trimmers in 1997

Louisiana Upholds Life Sentence to Black Man For Stealing Hedge Trimmers in 1997
Posted By: Will Moss on August 06, 2020

While this may not be HBCU related news, as an AFrican American male, I had to share this appalling decision by the Louisiana court system to keep a man in jail with a life sentence for such a petty crime.

The Louisiana Supreme Court has voted 5 – 1 in an appalling decision that effectively upholds a life sentence for a man jailed for attempting to steal hedge trimmers in 1997. Fair Wayne Bryant was convicted for stealing hedge clippers and was sentenced to life in prison under Louisiana’s habitual offender law. Bryan had launched an appeal on the grounds that the sentence was too severe, but the state’s supreme court refused to hear it.

The chief justice, Bernette Johnson was the sole dissenter and wrote her dissent saying that the sentence is excessive and disproportionate to the offense committed. Furthermore, it was costing the state a significant sum of money to keep the man incarcerated.



Bryant, a black man, had four previous convictions; the first being an armed robbery for which he was sentenced to 10 years hard labor in 1979.

He was later convicted of possession of stolen property in 1987, attempted forgery of a check in the amount of $150, and burglary in 1992.

"Since his conviction in 1997, Mr. Bryant's incarceration has cost Louisiana taxpayers approximately $518,667," she wrote. "Arrested at 38, Mr. Bryant has already spent nearly 23 years in prison and is now over 60 years old. If he lives another 20 years, Louisiana taxpayers will have paid almost one million dollars to punish Mr. Bryant for his failed effort to steal a set of hedge clippers."

Almost 80% of the inmates jailed in Louisiana under habitual offender laws are black, says Nicholas Chrastil of nonprofit news outlet The Lens in New Orleans. Chief Justice Johnson for her part said that Bryant’s sentence harkened back to the “Pig Laws” and “Black Codes” in the post reconstruction years which were designed to ensnare free blacks into forced servitude via penal sentences.

"Pig Laws were largely designed to re-enslave African Americans," wrote Chief Justice Johnson, calling the sentence a "modern manifestation" of Pig Laws: "This man's life sentence for a failed attempt to steal a set of hedge clippers is grossly out of proportion to the crime and serves no legitimate penal purpose."
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Will Moss
CEO at HBCU CONNECT
This is all the way messed up. Anyone in Louisiana in law that can do something about this!?
Saturday, August 8th 2020 at 1:43PM
This is bad fake news. "His life sentence under the state’s habitual offender law was not based solely on the burglary attempt but on his four prior convictions (armed robbery, possession of stolen items, forgery, and burglary). That law mandates that an offender’s punishment be increased based on criminal history." https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/louisian...
Tuesday, August 18th 2020 at 7:46PM
I dont care if he was a habitual theif. This is just wrong. Some of you are on here trying to make excuses for this, and its disgusting.
Friday, August 21st 2020 at 4:30PM
LOUSYANA does it again! This is so wrong....sad situation. Imagine if he had been a rich white guy's son.
Saturday, September 5th 2020 at 2:09AM
Wow!
Sunday, September 13th 2020 at 6:50PM
Cacasian males can rape, threaten to murder women and children and they do little or no time. Why are hedge trimmers more important than women and children's lives in America????????
Sunday, September 13th 2020 at 6:52PM
Jermiah Crawford
Texas Southern University class of 2020
This is absolutely terrible
Friday, July 23rd 2021 at 9:25AM
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