After 20 Years In Prison For Stealing Two Shirts, A Louisiana Man Is Set Free

An elderly man has been freed from jail after serving 20 years of his 23-year sentence.

His crime? He stole two shirts…

Guy Frank, 67, is said to have stolen two shirts from the Saks Fifth Avenue store back in 2000, at a time when he was struggling with heroin addiction.

The items were valued at less than $500, but due to a Louisiana law, he was left facing an extremely punishing sentence.

The so-called multiple offender law is similar to the ‘three strikes law’, but it seemingly does not require criminals to have been convicted of a crime of violent nature.

In 2002, The Washington Post cited a court decision according to which Frank had been arrested 36 times in total since 1975, and was convicted a number of times for cocaine possession and theft.

Image: The Innocence Project/Instagram

Frank pleaded guilty to his charge of theft, but due to his previous crimes, he was sentenced to 23 years in prison.

The Innocence Project got wind of Frank’s case when it was flagged by its Unjust Punishment Project, and it went on to launch a strong and successful appeal to the Orleans Parish District Attorney.

WDSU News, according to Complex, cited a statement by the organization that read:

“Even though he accepted responsibility for his crime, lawyers at District Attorney Harry Connick’s office asked that the judge find him to be a multiple offender, because he had been convicted of theft multiple times before, and to enhance his sentence.

Judge Sharon Hunter imposed on him a sentence of 23 years in the Department of Corrections without the possibility of parole.”

They stressed that Frank had committed a felony at the time, but it was changed to a misdemeanor back in 2010.

According to the Innocence Project, Frank’s case ‘gets to the heart of what is wrong with Louisiana’s multiple offender law’.

“He received this egregious sentence despite the fact that he was never a threat to anyone, and had never done more than steal in small amounts. His case shows how poor Black people are disproportionately affected by these extreme sentences. It is hard to imagine a White person with resources receiving this sentence for this crime,” it said on Instagram.

Frank is now finally free and a GoFundMe page has been set up for him so he can get his life back in order. According to the page, he ‘lost his mother, two of his brothers, his wife, and his son’ while he was behind bars.

What are your thoughts on this troubling story? Let us know by joining the conversation in the comments and please share this article if you’ve found it of value.

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