Alabama Man Willie Simmons Has Been Serving Life in Prison for 38 Years for Stealing $9 Back in 1982

Olowokandi Fiyin
Jan 26, 2020
05:20 A.M.

Beth Shelburne revealed details behind an Alabama man's stint in prison after he stole $9 in 1982.


The internet was a wild place after journalist Beth Shelburne tweeted the shocking news of an Alabama man, Willie Simmons, who has served 38 years and counting of a life sentence due to a robbery he committed in 1982.

While that wasn't so bad, what caused tremors amongst many was the fact that he had stolen $9.

Essence further reported that the then 25-year-old was prosecuted under Alabama's controversial habitual offender law due to his three previous, nonviolent felonies.


Those convictions included grand theft and receiving stolen property, although Beth was only able to find the grand larceny conviction from 1979.


According to Beth's tweet, Willie had already served a year in prison for that particular crime.

Unfortunately, News One added that the incarcerated man was uncertain how much time he served for the other offences.

Willie's story became even more sorrowful after he revealed to the journalist that he hadn't received a visitor since 2005 after his sister's death.


That sad bit, however, has done nothing to keep the 62-year-old from giving each day his best as he studies for his GED.

During Simmons' interview with Beth, he revealed that he had taken accountability for the crime as he explained that was most likely high on drugs at the time.

Willie recalled that he had wrestled a man to the ground before he took the man's wallet that contained $9.


During a detailed interview with NPR, Beth spoke about Alabama's Habitual Felony Offender Act. In her words:

"I think it is working exactly as it was intended. It was targeting repeat offenders with no mercy. And it was passed kind of at the dawn of the tough-on-crime era in the late '70s, before the 1980s, the war on drugs, many states passing three-strikes law. Alabama was way ahead of all of this."

According to NPR, Shelburne added that she wanted to shed light on the experience of people that have served the "harshest sentence next to execution, who needed to be held accountable for their crimes and their behavior."

Meanwhile, her followers are hopeful that her interview with Willie will bring a turnaround for his life.

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