A Mississippi man who took his cell phone into a jail cell has been sentenced to 12 years in prison.
The man, who was taken into police custody on a misdemeanor charge, remained behind bars because he was still in possession of his cell phone after being booked at a county jail.
NBC News reports that the prison’s failure to confiscate his device means he will spend 12 years of his life behind bars.
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The father of three, who was booked into the Newton County Jail in 2018, handed a cell phone to a guard to charge for him. The guard then took the phone and gave it to the sheriff’s deputy.
Despite denying that the device belonged to him, Willie Nash, eventually gave the password to the deputy who unlocked the phone. Court document states that Nash was using the phone to text his wife that he was in jail.
The case has since drawn widespread condemnation and reactions from social media users, with many urging Gov. Tate Reeve to intervene.
The laws of Mississippi prohibits inmates in correctional facilities from using or possessing cellphone while in custody. According to court documents, felony offense comes with a three to 15 years sentence.
After he was sentenced by a jury, the judge told Nash he escaped the maximum 15-year sentence considering his past burglary convictions.
Nash, clearly infuriated, said his sentence was “grossly disproportionate to the crime” and violated the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment, which forbids cruel and unusual punishments.
Nash is expected to be released February 2029.