Bored Panda works better on our iPhone app
Continue in app Continue in browser
BoredPanda Add Post

The Bored Panda iOS app is live! Fight boredom with iPhones and iPads here.

This Man Has Been In Prison For The Past 38 Years Since He Was Sentenced To Life For Stealing $9 In 1982
312points
User submission
5.8K
251.1K
People, Social Issues2 years ago

This Man Has Been In Prison For The Past 38 Years Since He Was Sentenced To Life For Stealing $9 In 1982

Back in 1977, the Alabama Legislature passed the Habitual Felony Offender Act to crack down on repeat criminals. According to the Department of Corrections, at that time, the prison population was 3,455. After a decade, this number skyrocketed to 13,541. And fast-forward to 2014 – the number of prisoners has increased by 840 percent, to 32,467.

Investigative journalist Beth Shelburne recently shared the story of a man currently imprisoned in one of Alabama’s most notorious prisons. She talked to Willie Simmons – a man who got a life sentence without parole – to shed light on the injustice created by the “habitual offender” laws.

More info: Twitter

Image credits: bshelburne

“Today I talked to Willie Simmons, who has spent the last 38 years in prison for stealing $9,” Beth began her Twitter thread. Willie Simmons is a man from the small town of Enterprise, Alabama. He got into hard drugs when he was just a teenager. When he was 25, “the state said he should die in prison.”

Image credits: bshelburne

Image credits: bshelburne

Image credits: bshelburne

Willie was convicted of first-degree robbery and was sentenced to life without parole in 1982. He was prosecuted under Alabama’s Habitual Offender law as he had three prior convictions. According to the journalist, these convictions were grand larceny and receiving stolen property. However, she says that she was only able to locate the grand larceny conviction from 1979, for which Willie served a year. Willie himself was uncertain and couldn’t really remember how much time he had served for the offenses.

Image credits: bshelburne

Image credits: bshelburne

Image credits: bshelburne

Image credits: bshelburne

Willie is serving his sentence in Holman Correctional Facility in Escambia County, Alabama. He says that he hasn’t had a single visitor since 2005 after his sister passed away, but he is trying to look at life in a positive light. According to Beth – the journalist – he is currently studying for his GED and is trying to “stay away from the wild bunch.” The man didn’t try to deny his crimes, and he takes full responsibility for them.

Image credits: bshelburne

Image credits: bshelburne

Image credits: bshelburne

Image credits: bshelburne

Beth ends the now-viral thread by saying: “When tough-on-crime people say everyone in prison deserves to be there, think of Mr. Simmons. We should be ashamed of laws that categorically throw people away in the name of safety. We should question anyone who supports Alabama’s Habitual Offender law. It needs to go.” What do you think of Alabama’s Habitual Offender law? Do you agree with the author — that it should go?

251Kviews

Share on Facebook
You May Like
Popular on Bored Panda
Share your thoughts
Ian Carter
Community Member
2 years ago

American has a messed up justice system,class system and attitude to poor people in general. Rather than help poor people have a better life so they dont turn to drugs it spends billions on hiding away the "problem" & the rich think the poor are scum.Many fall into drugs because they have nothing in there lives at all, they are born poor with no hope and end up exactly on the path expected. American could save a lot of money if it had a fairer society but then thats capitalism, keep the downtrodden down and look down your nose at the scum. "but he stolen money from some guy he deserves to go to prison" I am sure some will scream but what about restorative justice? would it not be better when this guy committed his crime to put him on a mandatory drug course to get him clean, help him into work and make him face his victims and pay back what he stole? America is a Christian country without Christian values, thats clear from a non American Atheist.

G13
Community Member
2 years ago

*applause* That's actually eerily correct

Load More Replies...
vp
Community Member
2 years ago

He stole $9 and got life. How many finance rats were even punished for the crisis they created in 2008?

Kathy Baylis
Community Member
2 years ago (edited)

And how many rich and/or famous junkies get to go to expensive spa-like rehab facilities and either never see the inside of a courtroom, or go once and get a slap on the wrist and small fine or easy community service—-if they’re found guilty at all?

Load More Replies...
Night Owl
Community Member
2 years ago (edited)

That's really sad. The whole US justice system seems to be broken. I mean, the fact alone that there are private, for-profit prison companies with a lobby ...

Agent K
Community Member
2 years ago

Actually, it works quite well if you look at it as a tool of institutionalized racism, which appears to be its objective. Rich people get off all the time - One of Trump's buddies only has to serve 45 days in jail for WORKING TO RIG AN ELECTION. Yet this poor person has spent his life in prison. The system appears to be doing exactly what its manipulative, soul-less authors intended.

Load More Replies...
Load More Comments
Ian Carter
Community Member
2 years ago

American has a messed up justice system,class system and attitude to poor people in general. Rather than help poor people have a better life so they dont turn to drugs it spends billions on hiding away the "problem" & the rich think the poor are scum.Many fall into drugs because they have nothing in there lives at all, they are born poor with no hope and end up exactly on the path expected. American could save a lot of money if it had a fairer society but then thats capitalism, keep the downtrodden down and look down your nose at the scum. "but he stolen money from some guy he deserves to go to prison" I am sure some will scream but what about restorative justice? would it not be better when this guy committed his crime to put him on a mandatory drug course to get him clean, help him into work and make him face his victims and pay back what he stole? America is a Christian country without Christian values, thats clear from a non American Atheist.

G13
Community Member
2 years ago

*applause* That's actually eerily correct

Load More Replies...
vp
Community Member
2 years ago

He stole $9 and got life. How many finance rats were even punished for the crisis they created in 2008?

Kathy Baylis
Community Member
2 years ago (edited)

And how many rich and/or famous junkies get to go to expensive spa-like rehab facilities and either never see the inside of a courtroom, or go once and get a slap on the wrist and small fine or easy community service—-if they’re found guilty at all?

Load More Replies...
Night Owl
Community Member
2 years ago (edited)

That's really sad. The whole US justice system seems to be broken. I mean, the fact alone that there are private, for-profit prison companies with a lobby ...

Agent K
Community Member
2 years ago

Actually, it works quite well if you look at it as a tool of institutionalized racism, which appears to be its objective. Rich people get off all the time - One of Trump's buddies only has to serve 45 days in jail for WORKING TO RIG AN ELECTION. Yet this poor person has spent his life in prison. The system appears to be doing exactly what its manipulative, soul-less authors intended.

Load More Replies...
Load More Comments
Popular on Bored Panda
Popular on Bored Panda
User Submissions
Also on Bored Panda
Also on Bored Panda