Tarrant County, Texas
One thing I can say from experience, is that your prison sentence is not over the day you are released from custody. Many times, doing your stretch behind bars was the easy part. Life is already hard enough as it is without restrictions. Sometimes it seems like supervised release is one of those things that was put into place to make your life harder than it needs to be. Nothing about supervised release seems to be constructive or even a little helpful in your rehabilitation or insertion back into society. Supervised release has always seemed to me like some sort of shameful badge that is placed on someone. When a person gets fed up with the stigma placed upon them by wearing this badge that’s meant to dehumanize you, many people usually end up violating the terms of their supervised release, which is very easy to do. Supervised release has language in the agreement like” you should not consort, talk to, or have contact with convicted felons.” That sounds good…..if you live in an upstanding working class neighborhood, full of people who’ve never done shit in their lives. For most people, this is not a real reality. They’re released from prison, right back into the same neighborhood we’re they’ve done the crime that sent them to prison in the first place. Neighborhoods where anyone is liable to be a “convicted felon.” From the cashier at the corner store to the mechanic that fixes your vehicle. Anybody is liable to have had something in their past. According to supervised release, you are responsible to ask every single person you encounter, if they’re a convicted felon. If you happen to be caught in the vicinity of someone who is a convicted felon, you can be violated……even if you had no idea this person was a convicted felon. I’ve heard people run the line “if you follow the law, you won’t have to worry about it.” Sounds good, until you realize just how unfair many of the laws are….especially once you find yourself caught up in a system that seems to profit just from you being a part of it. But, what happens when this system that is already stacked against you, turns into a political tool? Well, people like 43-year old Crystal Mason from Texas, find themselves being made an example out of for very ridiculous reasons.
Ms. Mason was sentenced to five years behind bars for “voting illegally in the 2016 election while on supervised release from federal prison.” Crystal Mason testified in court that she did not know that her 2011 fraud conviction made her ineligible to vote in a provisional ballot in the 2016 election. In Texas, voting illegally is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Mason’s attorney J. Warren St. John called the sentence “outrageous.” “The punishment does not fit the crime.” Warren told NBC News on Friday.
“She voted in good faith. She didn’t intentionally vote illegal and that’s the whole issue.” St. John’s words about his client ring true, especially when you consider the fact that Mason did not falsify any information on the voting form or use any half-truths. Which has to make you wonder how a court could say Mason purposely attempted to deceive anyone when voting. The fact that she used her real information clearly shows that her intention was not harmful or deceitful. Mason was probably unaware of the voting laws in Texas, and like most people thought it was her civic duty to vote in what became the most important presidential election of our lives. But of course, being a felon prevents you from getting the benefit of the doubt that others get, and being a black felon just makes you guilty regardless. Laws are stacked against a certain population of the United States by design, but when those laws are used as a political vehicle, we allow ourselves to cross over into some whole other stuff. The injustices in this Country committed against black, brown, and poor people has got to stop. There is only so much pushing a person will take before they begin to push back…..especially when it begins to feel as if your survival is dependent on the pushback.