Prosecutor drops all charges against Pamela Moses, imprisoned for voting error | Tennessee

A Memphis prosecutor has dropped all criminal charges against Pamela Moses, the Memphis woman who was sentenced to six years in prison for trying to register to vote.

Moïse was convicted last year and sentenced in January. She was granted a new trial in February after the Guardian published a document showing he had not been released to her defense before trial.

Moses was due in court on Monday to hear whether prosecutors would pursue a new trial.

The central question in her case was whether she knew she had no right to vote when a probation officer completed and signed a form stating that she was done with probation for a 2015 felony conviction and was eligible to vote. Even though the probation officer admitted he made a mistake and Moses said she had no idea she was ineligible to vote, prosecutors said she knew that she was not eligible and had cheated on him. Moses stood in the lobby of the probation office while the officer went to his office to research his case for about an hour, he testified at the trial.

The case sparked national outrage as it highlighted disparities in how black people are punished for voting errors. Several white defendants elsewhere have been sentenced to probation for posing as family members and voting on their behalf.

Reached by phone, Moses declined to comment on Friday, saying she was still processing the news. She said she plans to hold a press conference Monday in Memphis.

Amy Weirich, the Shelby County prosecutor who prosecuted the case, noted that Moses had spent 82 days in jail before receiving a new trial, “which is enough.”

“In the interest of judicial economy, we dismiss his record of illegal enrollment and violation of probation,” she said in a statement.

She noted that Moses is permanently banned from voting in Tennessee. One of the crimes she pleaded guilty to in 2015, tampering with evidence, causes people to permanently lose their right to vote in Tennessee. During Moses’ trial, the judge handling the case and the two probation officers said they were unaware that this was a crime that permanently disenfranchised people.

Tennessee has some of the toughest policies regarding restoring voting rights in the United States. People guilty of crimes cannot vote until they have served all of their sentences, including probation and parole. They must have paid all fines and fees and be current on child support. They also have to go through a process in which they get a probation or criminal justice official to approve their eligibility, and there is often confusion about the requirements. There are ongoing litigations challenging the process.

More than one in five otherwise eligible black voters — 175,000 people — can’t vote in Tennessee because of a felony conviction, according to an estimation by the Sentencing Project, a non-profit criminal justice organization.

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