# 35 year sentence for stealing a TV.

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TV thief freed - after 35 years

Julian Borger in Washington
Monday May 30, 2005

Guardian

A man was released from a North Carolina jail over the weekend after serving 35 years for stealing a black and white television set.
Junior Allen, a black migrant worker from neighbouring Georgia, will remain on probation for another five years, so he will not be entirely free until he is 70.

"I'm glad to be out," Mr Allen said on his release.

"I've done too much time for what I did. I won't be truly happy until I see a sign that says I'm outside of North Carolina."

Friends drove him over the state line to Georgia, where he will live with his sister, under the supervision of parole authorities.

Mr Allen was imprisoned in 1970, when he was 30 years old. President Richard Nixon was in the White House and had announced the deployment of troops in Cambodia.

In Manhattan, the first tower of the World Trade Centre had just been completed, and the first Boeing 747 jumbo jet had entered commercial service.

Edward Heath was elected prime minister in Britain,

Mr Allen was convicted of sneaking into the unlocked home of an 87-year-old woman and stealing her 19-inch black-and-white Motorola TV, worth about $140 (£78 at today's exchange rate). The judge, Pou Bailey, sentenced him to life. Under current sentencing guidelines the same crime today would draw a maximum of three years' imprisonment. Mr Allen was denied parole 25 times because of poor behaviour, while murderers, rapists and child-molesters came and went at the prison. Last year the North Carolina parole commission offered him freedom if he could complete a work-release programme without trouble. He was allowed out to work in a restaurant washing dishes and cleaning floors, and performed so well he was released early. Enoch Hasberry, who ran the work-release programme, expressed concern that Mr Allen might not be able to adjust to life outside prison. "He has been incarcerated so long, I'm not sure he's going to make it out there," Mr Hasberry told the News & Observer newspaper. "I'm not sure he's going to want to stay out. "For a black and white TV, how much do you have to pay? We've got an in-house joke here: How much time would he have gotten if he had stolen a colour TV?" http://www.infoshop.org/inews/article.php?story=20050530154114492 [Broken] There has to be more to this case. Has anyone heard anything about this? Last edited by a moderator: ## Answers and Replies Related General Discussion News on Phys.org that sounds like a lawsuit to me, but thats just my opinion Tarheel I agree TsunamiJoe. This mans constitutional rights were clearly violated. "Cruel and Unusual punishment" I started a thread regarding this matter on the Charlotte.com message board. All the Carolinians that have replied are all in agreement that he got what he deserved... Go figure. One person replied to me that I felt it was unjust simply because the man was black. The south will ALWAYS be backwards. http://forums.charlotte.com/n/mb/message.asp?webtag=kr-cltissues&msg=1807.1&ctx=1 [Broken] Last edited by a moderator: ignore that rapists and such get out in less time, lets just look at the basic, he was sentanced 35 years for a theft bordering a misdemenour... Curious3141 Homework Helper Did he not physically assault this old lady ? Curious3141 said: Did he not physically assault this old lady ? If he did, he got what he deserved. If not, then I would say that the sentence was ridiculous, but that was the law at the time. He should have known better. Pengwuino Gold Member Curious3141 said: Did he not physically assault this old lady ? It would have been noted if that were the case and the theft charge would have been secondary to the attempted murder/assault charge. I see every case like this and htink "ok.... there HAS to be something not mentioned here to justify this" but ... i mean... there is no end to how good the excuse has to be to keep him in that long. Unless of course he killed someone in prison or assaulted a bunch of people in prison... Edit: OHHHHHH I think i found out whats the catch to this. Anyone notice what kinda website we're looking at? Well look at the actual AP report.... Man released after 35 years for TV theft Was sentenced to life in prison HILLSBOROUGH, North Carolina (AP) -- After 35 years in prison for stealing a black-and-white television set Junior Allen is a free man. Allen, 65, walked out of prison Friday, ending a case that attracted widespread attention, because he remained in jail while other inmates convicted of murder, rape or child molestation were released. "I'm glad to be out," Allen told supporters outside Orange Correctional Center. "I've done too much time for what I did. I won't be truly happy until I see a sign that says I'm outside of North Carolina." Allen was a 30-year-old migrant farm worker from Georgia with a criminal history that included burglaries and a violent assault when he sneaked into an unlocked house and stole a 19-inch black-and-white television worth$140.

Some state records say Allen roughed up the 87-year-old woman who lived there, but he was not convicted of assault.

Instead, he was sentenced in 1970 to life in prison for second-degree burglary. The penalty for the offense has since been changed to a maximum of three years in prison.
'At least he's got some years left'

The state Parole Commission decided last year to release Allen if he behaved and completed a transitional work-release program. He worked at a restaurant washing dishes and floors and had no prison infractions during the past three years.

He did so well he was released several months early -- on his 26th try at parole.

His parole could last up to five years, meaning he could gain complete freedom by age 70.

Rich Rosen, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill law professor who took up Allen's case three years ago, said it was a shame that Allen had not been released decades ago. "At least he's got some years left," Rosen said.

Allen did not meet with the parole commission until January 2004. Prior to that time, his record was reviewed regularly by the commission and denied.

Rosen said the parole commission "hasn't been able to articulate a reason that Allen wasn't released."

"He wasn't the best prisoner, (but) he wasn't the worst," Rosen said.

Once outside the prison, Allen got into a car with two friends who were driving him to Athens, Georgia, where he planned to meet relatives and return home to Georgetown, Georgia, near the Alabama border.

Enoch Hasberry, the programs director at Carteret Correctional Center in Newport where Allen went through work-release, said he worries Allen might not adjust well to life on the outside.

"For a black-and-white TV, how much do you have to pay?" Hasberry said.

"We've got an in-house joke here: How much time would he have gotten if he had stolen a color TV?"

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it says he was never convicted of assault

goes to show you how bad things used to be.

When people were railroaded into prison for minor crimes back then it was a joke. Then again we are talking about the south in 1970. This jsut goes to show you how bad things can get in the future based on what happened in the past.

loseyourname
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Have things really changed that much? According to the AP report, this man had a conviction record that included other burglaries and a violent assault. Here in California, he would have been sentenced to life in prison for his third felony and would never have even had the chance to steal the TV.

Pengwuino
Gold Member
loseyourname said:
Have things really changed that much? According to the AP report, this man had a conviction record that included other burglaries and a violent assault. Here in California, he would have been sentenced to life in prison for his third felony and would never have even had the chance to steal the TV.
Yah, our three strikes law immediately popped into my head on this one. Do they happen to have had something similar at the time and it was enacted on this case?

also keep in mind hes not in california, but washington...

and i seemingly doubt they did, but thats just an assumption at this point