Fair Wayne Bryant's outrageous sentence


How can we not cry out for justice for Fair Wayne Bryant, a 62-year-old African American man whose life sentence for stealing hedge clippers was just upheld by the Louisiana Supreme Court?

Five white justices on the court did not find the sentence excessive, but the one African American on the court, Chief Justice Bernette Johnson, fired off her spirited dissent, exposing the scandalous racism inherent in the majority’s decision. She, who in her life-bones is quick to see the legacy of slavery at play in our court system, readily made the connection between Mr. Bryant’s extreme sentence and the “Pig Laws” enacted after Reconstruction. These laws, enacted by all-white Southern legislatures, imposed extremely harsh penal sentences on Black people for crimes of poverty such as petty theft.

Since we witnessed George Floyd’s agonized death under the knee of racist law enforcement, it’s become clear, even to white folk, that the retrograde, ignorant, isolated attitude of “racism died when slavery was abolished” is history. In this new moment of awakened national consciousness about systemic racism, I urge you, my fellow citizens, not to be silent, but to join me in raising our voices to decry this outrageously racist decision by the Louisiana Supreme Court. I especially urge my fellow white Americans to join people of color in their long-suffering, righteous struggle for justice.

On Fair Wayne Bryant’s behalf, be creative:

  • Write letters to the editor in your local newspaper;
  • fire off messages on social media;
  • sign the petition to have Mr Bryant released;
  • or whatever other actions your creative spirit devises.
  • most importantly, write a personal letter of support to Mr. Bryant.

His 63rd birthday is coming soon on August 22. In such a crushing moment, think what it will mean for his dignity to receive a windfall of letters of loving support from his fellow citizens. Be a part of the warm, beating heart that is the soul of our democracy.

Stay on fire for justice!

helen prejean csj signature

    Write to Mr. Bryant

    Fair Wayne Bryant, #91967
    Cypress 3
    Louisiana State Penitentiary
    Angola, LA 70712

    Make sure you observe the following rules for letters to those incarcerated at Angola:

    • Address your letter correctly, making sure to include the prisoner number.
    • Write your name and address both on the envelope and on the enclosed letter.
    • Use ordinary writing paper and a plain envelope. Do NOT send a card or postcard. It will be thrown out.
    • Do not enclose anything with your letter.
    • Don’t use scented stationery or attach stickers or glitter.
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