On Friday a 67-year-old New Orleans man was released from prison after being incarcerated for 20 years for the theft of two shirts.
The Innocence Project New Orleans says that Guy Frank was given a 23-year sentence due to Louisiana’s multiple offender law. That law is intended to be the state’s version of the “three strikes law,” though Louisiana’s version reportedly doesn’t require a conviction for a violent crime. Proponents say it’s for career criminals who’ve proven they can’t reform themselves. In Frank’s case, when he stole the shirts he had three prior convictions for theft which made him eligible for much harsher sentencing. The organization says its Unjust Punishment Project flagged Frank’s case, which led to a successful appeal to the Orleans Parish District Attorney.
Frank’s was reportedly caught stealing two shirts from the men’s department of a Saks Fifth Avenue back in September 2000. At the time he was caught he was reportedly stealing regularly to fund a heroin habit. He was booked on a count of theft of goods valued at less than $500.
The Innocence Project says that Frank’s crime used to be a felony, but that it was changed to a misdemeanor in 2010. IPNO adds that Frank, who had a severe drug addiction when he took the shirts, pled guilty to the charge.
“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,” said the Innocence Project in a statement, according to local NBC-affiliate WDSU.
A GoFundMe for Frank, which you can find here, says that he was a waiter prior to his incarceration, and that he wants to be an Assistant Deacon now that he’s been released.
You can read the Innocence Project’s take via an Instagram-post on Frank’s story below: