A prisoner has been sentenced to 12 years in jail for asking a guard to charge his mobile phone.
Willie Nash, 39, was jailed for 12 years in August 2018, with his case coming to light earlier this month after an unsuccessful appeal.
Nash was booked into Newton County Jail in Mississippi in early 2018. While there he gave a guard his cellphone to charge for him but that got him into trouble because it’s a contraband device.
The jail worker took the phone to a sheriff’s deputy to report the incident.
Nash initially denied the phone was his when he realized he was in trouble, but eventually admitted he owned it, and shared the passcode needed to unlock it. He told his jailers he had been using it to text his wife to tell her that he was in prison.
Mississippi state law says inmates in jails and prisons are banned from owning a cellphone, with sentences for doing so ranging from three years to 15 years.
The judge who sentenced Nash told him he was lucky he didn’t get the maximum sentence, given his previous convictions for burglary.
Nash launched an appeal against the prison term, calling his sentence “grossly disproportionate to the crime.”
His lawyers said it violated the US Constitution’s Eighth Amendment, which bans cruel and unusual punishments, NBC News reported. But Nash’s appeal was dismissed by the Mississippi Supreme Court, with Justice James D Maxwell highlighting that the sentence fell within the statutory range.
Another Justice, Leslie D King, agreed that while the sentence was sound, the case itself demonstrated “a failure of our criminal justice system on multiple levels.”
Nash is scheduled to be freed from prison in February 2029.