Like the rest of us, Willie Nash had a history - For many, his history made him a particular type of person - a bad one. But for the ten years following his burglary convictions, he was a good father who provided for his wife and three children.
Then, he was booked into the Newton County Jail in Mississippi on a misdemeanor. That was only the beginning of his bad luck. The guards failed to follow proper intake procedures, which left Nash holding his phone. And when it ran out of battery, he handed it to the guard and asked him kindly to charge it while he waited in his cell. That mistake has cost him TWELVE YEARS of his life. Sign the petition and ask Governor Phil Bryant to commute Nash's sentence and right this terrible miscarriage of justice.
The guard didn't confiscate the phone and leave it at that. Instead, he went straight to a sheriff's deputy and alerted him of Nash's offense. In reality, it was the jailers' offense because they had failed to check him for a cell phone, nor had they let Nash know that such items weren't allowed inside the jail.
Nash was promptly charged with having an unauthorized electronic device behind bars, which under Mississippi Code Section 47-5-193 is considered a felony and can carry a sentence of up to 15 years. The judge gave Nash 12 years
and just like that, not only Nash, but his wife and children's lives changed forever.
A man that should have been out of jail in little to no time was condemned to spend 12 years of his life behind bars. The judge left Nash with some wisdom before he was carried back to prison: to consider himself lucky since he could have given him the whole 15 years.
Nash appealed the incredibly harsh sentence. He said 12 years was tantamount to cruel and unusual punishment - WHICH IT IS
- and asked the Mississippi Supreme Court to shorten his sentence to a more reasonable time. Unfortunately, the Supreme court ruled in favor of the lower court because the 12-year sentence was within the "statutory range" of 3 to 15 years.
No one should have to serve 12 years behind bars for a mistake, and certainly not a mistake on the part of law enforcement. And considering Mississippi's prisons are some of the most dangerous and run-down in the country, the state should be working towards fixing that issue rather than stuffing more people in lock-up. Nash's only hope is for Governor Phil Bryant to commute this unjust sentence and allow him to go home to be with his family. Please sign if you agree.