Criminal Justice

Prosecutor decides 82 days in jail for illegal voter registration 'is sufficient;' BLM activist won't be retried

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AP Pamela Moses

Black Lives Matter activist and mayoral contender Pamela Moses (second left) and mayoral contender Lemichael Wilson in May 2019 in Memphis, Tennessee. Photo by Jim Weber/The Daily Memphian via the Associated Press.

A Black Lives Matter activist sentenced to six years and a day in prison for an illegal voter registration won’t face a retrial after a Tennessee prosecutor decided to drop the matter.

Pamela Moses was sentenced in January for the illegal attempt to register to vote, but the judge granted the activist a new trial in February after the Guardian discovered new evidence in her case, report the New York Times, the Guardian and WREG (here and here).

Amy Weirich, the Shelby County district attorney in Tennessee, said in a statement Moses had spent 82 days in custody in the case, “which is sufficient.” Moses won’t be retried in the interest of judicial economy, Weirich said.

The stiff sentence that Moses received in the first trial led voting rights activists to point to racial disparities in voter fraud cases. Moses is Black. White men in such cases have received probation or only days in prison.

Moses had said she thought that she was eligible to vote after the probation office informed her that her probation was over for a past offense. The judge who gave Moses the six-year sentence said she had “tricked the probation department.”

But the judge overturned Moses’ conviction after the Guardian learned through a public records request about an investigation of the probation officer who handled Moses’ inquiry. The officer had made a good-faith mistake and Moses did not deceive him, the investigation found.

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