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CBC Chairman: “Illegal Voting” Prison Sentence in Texas Case Unjust and Unnecessary

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Washington, March 31, 2018 | comments

This week, Texas resident Crystal Mason was sentenced to five years in prison for voting in the 2016 presidential election. At the time, she was on supervised release back to her community after serving out a previous prison sentence. She maintains that she was not made aware of the fact that she was not allowed to vote due to her status as an ex-felon. Rep. Cedric L. Richmond, Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, issued the following statement in response:

“Voting is our most fundamental right. American citizens should not be punished for exercising it.  The case of Crystal Mason breaks my heart. This woman had already paid her debt to society and was on supervised release back into her community when she decided to participate in our democracy. It is shameful that Texas law would penalize people who have served their time. This is a major problem in this country because ex-offenders need to be given a second chance to get back on their feet and become active citizens again.

"The punishment does not fit the crime in this instance. This woman now faces the prospect of more time away from her family just because she was transitioning away from a prison setting. The Congressional Black Caucus supports restoring voting rights for citizens that have already served their time. Felony disenfranchisement is just another way of marginalizing black people, dis-empowering us and silencing us.

"The American criminal justice system doesn’t just kill our unarmed citizens, it also works to prevent economic and civic recovery of many in our communities. This is an unjust result that continues to prove that the scales of justice are not balanced. Americans should be ashamed of this prison sentence.”

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