This is the final part of a three-part series called “Second Chances,” where CBS 42’s David Lamb speaks with people who served time in prison and have since been freed.
JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — Alvin Kennard went to prison as a 22-year-old back in 1983 and was 58 when he got out.
Today, Kennard has built a life as a free man who is not looking back and making the most of his second chance. He remembers the day in August 2019 when he became a free man like it was yesterday.
”It was a bright, shiny, pretty day. I couldn’t do nothing but jump for joy,” said Kennard.
It was a much different experience than the day a then-22-year-old Kennard got life without parole, a severe sentence for a $50 robbery, but through it all, he held onto hope.
”You can’t give up on you, you know. And I just thank God that he didn’t allow me to give up on Alvin. You know when everybody else counted me out, I just kept on and kept on and kept on, kept on praying,” Kennard said.
Kennard admitted the man who walked out of prison nearly four years ago bears little resemblance to the man who walked in.
“I had to surrender, and give in, and submit, and ask God to take all the bitterness and hatred away from me. Even though I knew the way the system did me, I still had to do what I had to do,” he said.
Carla Crowder and her team at Alabama Appleseed secured Kennard’s freedom back in 2019, convincing the powers that be that Kennard’s punishment did not fit the crime.
”Alvin is a poster child for what can happen if you’re noticed and you get a second chance and have a little bit of support,” Crowder said.
Since his release, Kennard has poured himself into his job at Town and Country Collision and is a model employee. His supervisor Mike Watkins said Kennard has been a delight.
“The fact that he never gave up and look where he’s at now. He’s an inspiration to the younger men that are coming up through our company and we’re just proud to have him,” said Watkins.
”Alvin is amazing. He got this job back in 2019 and he’s gotten a promotion,” Crowder said. “They’ve asked me to send them more Alvins.”
Grateful for the life he has built since his release, Kennard is solely focused on looking ahead and the opportunities that await.
“I’m going to leave this right here. It’s my time to shine. I can smile. [God] abled me to do wonderful things in life, and he’s going to take me higher than I’m at and I’m going to meet some wonderful people along the journey who are gonna love Alvin for who he is,” he said.
Alvin’s story has been told all over the globe and will actually be included in an upcoming documentary. “188 Years: Life after Life without Parole” will be shown on March 7 at the Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema on 2nd Avenue North downtown.