Louisiana Court Upholds Man's Life Sentence For Stealing Hedge Clippers
By Bill Galluccio
August 7, 2020
The Louisiana Supreme Court will not overturn the life sentence of a man convicted of stealing hedge clippers. Fair Wayne Bryant, 62, was convicted of one count of attempted simple burglary in 1997 after police found the clippers in his backseat during a traffic stop.
Bryant, who had four previous felony convictions, was sentenced to life behind bars under the state's habitual offender law. His lawyers argued that jailing him for the rest of his life was "unconstitutionally harsh and excessive," and asked the Supreme Court to overturn his sentence.
In a 5-1 decision, the court declined to reduce his sentence, with only the lone dissenter, Chief Justice Bernette Johnson, penning an opinion in the case.
"Each of these crimes was an effort to steal something. Such petty theft is frequently driven by the ravages of poverty or addiction, and often both," Johnson wrote in her dissent. "It is cruel and unusual to impose a sentence of life in prison at hard labor for the criminal behavior which is most often caused by poverty or addiction."
"This man's life sentence for a failed attempt to steal a set of 3 hedge clippers is grossly out of proportion to the crime and serves no legitimate penal purpose," Johnson continued.
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