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Louisiana Man, 67, Walks Free After 20 Years in Prison for Stealing Two Shirts

An elderly man is hoping to begin a new chapter of his life after he walked free from prison after serving a 20-year sentence for stealing two shirts.

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An elderly Black man from New Orleans is hoping to begin a new chapter of his life after he walked free from prison after serving a 20-year sentence for stealing two shirts.

According to the advocacy group ‘Innocence Project New Orleans’ (IPNO), Guy Frank, 67, received the draconian sentence after attempting to shoplift the two shirts from Saks Fifth Avenue while he was in the throes of heroin addiction. He immediately pled guilty to the charges.

At the time when the crime occurred, the offense – stealing items valued at under $500 – was considered a felony. As of 2010, however, it would only be considered a misdemeanor.

Frank was given the unjust sentence under Louisiana’s multiple offender law, which often gives people the disproportionately harsh sentences of decades in prison even to those never convicted of a violent crime.

“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,” IPNO said in a statement posted to Instagram. “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.”

When IPNO’s Unjust Punishment Project caught wind of Frank’s plight they advocated directly to the Orleans Parish District Attorney to secure the elderly man’s immediate release.

In a press release, IPNO explained:

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

With the rest of his life ahead of him, Frank will be given support services as well as support from IPNO.

He hopes to become an assistant deacon in order to help the youth make good decisions in their life, the group noted.

Those who would like to assist Frank as he goes on this new journey to rebuild his life can donate directly to his GoFundMe.

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