A 62-year-old African-American man from Alabama, named Willie Simmons, has spent the last 38 years in prison for as little as stealing $9. In 1982, he was convicted of first-degree robbery and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole under Alabama’s Habitual Offender statute. Reports show that he also had three prior convictions under his belt.
Following a conversation with Simmons, WBRC reporter Beth Shelburne posted his ordeals on Twitter in a thread.
Simmons, an Army veteran who became addicted to narcotics while serving abroad, was 25 years old when the state “said he should die in jail,” according to Shelburne. Since his sister died in 2005, he hasn’t seen a visitor since.
He is now 62 years old and imprisoned in Holman Correctional Facility in Escambia County, Alabama, which is regarded as one of the country’s “most violent jails.” Despite this, he is training for his GED and attempting to “avoid the wild bunch.”
Simmons isn’t denying the crime for which he was sentenced to life in jail. He confessed to being “high on drugs” when he wrestled a man to the ground and snatched his wallet, which held $9, claiming he was “trying to get a fast fix.”
He has filed numerous appeals without the assistance of an attorney over the years, all of which have been dismissed. “It may feel like you’re standing alone in a position like this,” he said. I don’t have someone to call or speak to on the outside. I have the impression that I am lost in space at times.”
The last means of appeal for those serving life without parole under the habitual offender rule, such as Simmons, was withdrawn by lawmakers in 2014. Simmons, on the other hand, is hoping that his harsh sentence will be overturned. He said, “Yes, I’ve been hoping and praying for it.” “I’m not going down without a fight.”
Furthermore, Simmons continues to wish for the day that he will be free and able to live a normal life. He said, “My hope is to get out of here, settle down with a woman, and do God’s will.” “I’d like to educate people about the dangers of drugs.”
Sometimes when one looks at some of the prison sentences given to Black men and women in America, you are left to wonder if America is really the land of the JUST and free. It almost seems there are difference laws for white people and a set of other laws for black people.
How can $9 land a man in prison for life? – The same sentence that murder and other grave offences get.
Or is there something the authorities are not telling us? What’s so special about his case that he is spending his entire life in jail without parole?
These questions need answers. We might not have them here, but if this news went viral, maybe we can get closure on his case and help him get what’s left of justice.