Louisiana Supreme Court Won't Review Life Sentence For Man Who Stole Hedge Clippers



Mace

Well-Known Member
August 5, 2020
LAUREL WAMSLEY

A Louisiana man will continue to spend his life in prison for stealing a pair of hedge clippers, after the state's Supreme Court denied his request to review a lower court's sentence.

Fair Wayne Bryant was convicted in 1997 of stealing the hedge clippers. Prosecutors pursued and won a life sentence in the case, a penalty permissible under the state's habitual offender law. Bryant appealed the life sentence as too severe.

Chief Justice Bernette Johnson was the sole dissenter in the court's decision last week, writing that Bryant's sentence is "excessive and disproportionate to the offense" — and that it was costing the state a lot of money to keep him imprisoned.

"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.

Bryant, who is Black, had four prior convictions. Only the first was violent:

 

Earle

Well-Known Member
His lawyers, whether through the Innocence Project or some other advocacy group, will just have to exhaust the appeals process in hopes that the court will have a change of heart. Advocacy groups should continue to apply public pressure to bring to the forefront the shame of this act of injustice. Additionally, with a democratic governor, efforts should be made in the Legislature to change the state's habitual offender law, which has been archaic for a long, long time.
 
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JROCK

Preeminent
His lawyers, whether through the Innocence Project or some other advocacy group, will just have to exhaust the appeals process in hopes that the court will have a change of heart. Advocacy groups should continue to apply public pressure to bring to the forefront the shame of this act of injustice. Additionally, with a democratic governor, efforts should be made in the Legislature to change the state's habitual offender's law, which has been archaic for a long, long time.
Can the Governor in Louisiana pardon outlandish sentences in the state?
 

Earle

Well-Known Member
Can the Governor in Louisiana pardon outlandish sentences in the state?
Much like the President on the federal level, the Governor has the authority to pardon or commute the sentences of persons incarcerated for various crimes in Louisiana. During his first term, Gov. John Bel Edwards campaigned on the promise of prison reform to help reduce Louisiana's "highest in the nation" incarceration rate. He did increase significantly the number of commutations in comparison, of course, to former Republican Governor Bobby Jindal, who commutated only 3 persons during his eight years in office. Gov. Edwards has pushed for and secured various reforms already, and I believe many more commutations will be forthcoming. Public awareness, I believe, would be helpful for any person seeking commutation, especially where the sentence being served is or appears to be unjust. Looking forward, I personally believe the Governor will use his popularity to contest one of Louisiana's republican U.S. senators when his second term, which he has just started, comes to an end. If such were to occur, and if he were to win, prison reform should remain at the forefront of Louisiana politics for a while, and this would be good for Louisiana's incarcerees. .
 
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JROCK

Preeminent
Much like the President on the federal level, the Governor has the authority to pardon or commute the sentences of persons incarcerated for various crimes in Louisiana. During his first term, Gov. John Bel Edwards campaigned on the promise of prison reform to help reduce Louisiana's "highest in the nation" incarceration rate. He did increase significantly the number of commutations in comparison, of course, to former Republican Governor Bobby Jindal, who commutated only 3 persons during his eight years in office. Gov. Edwards has pushed for and secured various reforms already, and I believe many more commutations will be forthcoming. Public awareness, I believe, would be helpful for any person seeking commutation, especially where the sentence being served is or appears to be unjust. Looking forward, I personally believe the Governor will use his popularity to contest one of Louisiana's republican U.S. senators when his second term, which he has just started, comes to an end. If such were to occur, and if he were to win, prison reform should remain at the forefront of Louisiana politics for a while, and this would be good for Louisiana's incarcerees. .
This case seems like an instance where he should use his executive power to pardon or commute the sentence. The press on this really isn't a good look for Louisiana.
 

Earle

Well-Known Member
This case seems like an instance where he should use his executive power to pardon or commute the sentence. The press on this really isn't a good look for Louisiana.
Absolutely, and I suspect he will! Louisiana's "Habitual Offender" statute allows the system to, if you will, throw the book at you when you continue to engage in unlawful conduct. Your conduct shows the Court that what you have already gone through to that point has not been sufficient to deter continued bad behavior. Thus, the harsh punishment! Since this was Mr. Bryant's 4th offense, although not felonious, but still habitual. This law is stupid, as interpreted, but all the ingriedients were there: a poor black defendant, mostly white conservative adjudicators, and a habitual offender. Together this makes for a harsh decision on recurring misdemeanor offenses having lifetime consequences. I think this law was meant for application to repeat felony offenders, and especially in cases involving murder, rape, and the like.
 
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