Willie Nash was in jail convicted of a misdemeanor charge and while completing his sentence he asked his jailer if he could charge his cellphone — that question landed Nelson with a 12-year sentence that was recently upheld by the Mississippi Supreme Court. 

He was convicted under Mississippi Code Section 47-5-193 — which prohibits inmates from possessing “any weapon, deadly weapon, unauthorized electronic device, contraband item, or cell phone or any of its components or accessories." During the trial, Eighth Judicial District Judge Mark Duncan told Nash, according to a report by WDAM, he should “consider himself fortunate” and explained he could have been charged as a habitual offender, which would have landed him an even harsher sentence. 

Despite upholding the decision, Presiding Justice Leslie D. King stated numerous concerns the case as a whole “seems to demonstrate a failure of our criminal justice system on multiple levels.”

“Cases like Nash’s are exactly why prosecutors and judges are given wide discretion," King wrote in his opinion. "His crime was victimless, and the facts of the case lend themselves to an interpretation his crime was accidental and likely caused by a failure in booking procedures. Nash did not do anything nefarious with his phone, and he certainly did not hide his phone from law enforcement." 

King continued in his opinion to move his ire from the officers involved in booking to the prosecutor and judge in the case, calling on them to adjust their stance in enforcing the law.

"While I do not think this court can find under the law the trial court abused its discretion in sentencing," King wrote, "in my opinion, both the prosecutor and the trial court should have taken a more rehabilitative, rather than punitive, stance.” 

Nash is now slated for release on Feb 2, 2029 according to the Mississippi Department of Corrections website.