Thursday, April 26, 2018

Three Sentences in Texas

You may have heard about the case of Crystal Mason, a black woman who voted in the 2016 election in Tarrant County, Texas, while she was on supervised release for a felony conviction. She didn’t realize she was ineligible to vote under those circumstances, and no one told her she couldn't. In March, a state judge sentenced her to five years in prison.

I hadn't heard about the case of Rosa Maria Ortega, which was tried the year before. She was a permanent resident (green-card-holder) in the same Texas county and was sentenced to eight years in prison because she voted in 2012 and 2014. She didn’t know she had to be a citizen to vote.

Both of those extremities are easy to contrast with slaps on the wrist around the country for much worse crimes. (Especially since the actions of Mason and Ortega shouldn't even be crimes, in my opinion. People should be able to vote once they're out of prison, if not while in prison, and voting shouldn't be restricted to citizens—it should be open to everyone permanently living in the country.) But the counter argument is, Well, those are different states, different jursidictions... sentences are just tougher in Texas. Right?


This week, Russ Casey, a justice of the peace in that same Texas county, was allowed to plead guilty to tampering with a government record. He'll serve a suspended two-year sentence and pay a $1,000 fine. His crime? Turning in forged signatures to get on the ballot. He clearly knew that was illegal, and it benefited him directly, unlike the two women who were voting for other people, not themselves.

But somehow Casey's actions were not worth prison time. Look at these three people and think about why that is. Hmm.


Source: Huffington Post

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