An Elliot County man, sentenced to attend church and wear a sign outlining his crime, is heading back to jail.
Just weeks into serving his unusual punishment James Nickel was arrested and charged with theft by unlawful taking under $500 dollars. It was theft that initially landed the eastern Kentucky man in hot water with police.
Earlier this month James Nickell admitted to stealing guitars from the First Baptist Church in Sandy Hook, Kentucky. During the sentencing for his theft Nickell was given an unusual option by District Judge Rupert Wilhoit.
According to WKYT, the 23-year-old thief was given a choice between serving a year behind bars or attending church services for six weeks. Choosing to stay out of jail also meant that Nickell would be required to wear a sign reading “I stole from this church” while pacing in front of First Baptist.
Nickell agreed the judge’s second option and initially complied with its terms. According to Jennifer Nickell, the man’s wife, the intentions of her husband were sincere:
“He was trying to change and he still is. He is a good person. He went to the church and we went willingly to the church. It was humiliating for him. It would be hard for anyone to have to get out with a big sign that says what you did wrong when people don’t know the whole story.”
An article by NBC News writes that James Nickell was not given a choice of punishment following his second theft arrest. He is currently sitting behind bars at the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center in Johnson County. This time Nickell stands accused of stealing from the home of a relative.
According to Jennifer Nickell, Kentucky authorities are wrong this time around. She claims that her husband confided the details of his crime to her privately:
“Just because the law said that, it ain’t what happened.”
Do you think the Kentucky man sentenced to wear a sign and attend church should be given a second chance?