Supreme court in US upholds life sentence for black man convicted for stealing hedge clippers

62-year-old Fair Wayne Bryant, a black man from Louisiana United States will spend the rest of his life in prison for stealing hedge clippers. In 1997, Bryant was convicted on one count of attempted simple burglary.

His attorney, Peggy Sullivan appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Louisiana in 2018 and wrote that Bryant “contends that his life sentence is unconstitutionally harsh and excessive.”

But last week, the Supreme Court disagreed, with five justices choosing to uphold the life sentence. Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Johnson, the only female and black person on the court was the only judge who dissented.

“The sentence imposed is excessive and disproportionate to the offense the defendant committed,” she wrote.

The sentence is sanctioned under the habitual offender law, Johnson noted in her dissent, meaning that Bryant’s previous criminal history supports the sentence.

Bryant was convicted in 1979 for attempted armed robbery, in 1987 for possession of stolen things, attempted forgery of a check worth $150 in 1989 and for simple burglary of an inhabited dwelling in 1992, all before his 1997 arrest for the failed attempt at stealing the hedge clippers.

While Johnson said she would grant the appeal, five justices denied it and one abstained.