You may have heard the name Crystal Mason. She is a 43-year-old Black woman in Fort Worth, Texas, who attempted to vote during the 2016 general election, but was later told that she committed voter fraud because she was on supervised released for a non-violent crime. Her provisional ballot was not counted, but she was still given a five-year prison sentence. Her lawyers asked for a new trial, but Judge Ruben Gonzalez heartlessly refused in June and has insisted on locking up the mother of three. She has been free on bond pending appeal, but that could change at any moment.
Mason, who along with her lawyers Alison Ginter and Kim Cole were guests on The Clay Cane Show on SiriusXM Urban View on Thursday, said when she voted on Election Day she was on supervised release for tax fraud.
“Who would imagine after you get out, you rehabilitate yourself in society, you get a job, you do what you’re supposed to do and you go and vote — not knowing that right was stricken and you get sentenced to five years?” she asked. “Again, I’m on supervised release, no one told me. I didn’t sign any paperwork saying that I was ineligible to vote. I was told to not be around guns, felons and drugs. … I had no idea, I would’ve never did that [voted].”
In what seems like a double standard, a white woman from Iowa named Terri Lynn Rote was convicted of voter fraud for trying to vote for President Donald Trump twice. She was sentenced to two years’ probation and a $750 fine.
While Rote intentionally broke the law, Texas law for convicted felons voting is not so cut-and-dry, Ginter, Mason’s lawyer, explained on The Clay Cane Show.
“The choice to prosecute is the real injustice. The law in Texas is unclear on whether she is or is not an eligible voter. Some states, disqualify us all felons — Texas doesn’t. As soon as you have finished your time and paid your debt, you are a real citizen again,” Ginter said. “Crystal was on supervise release, which is a program designed to reintegrate people back into society after they finish their federal terms. She had no way of knowing that the DA would decide that her vote is a threat. This selective prosecution is seen a lot in Tarrant county.”
So why does a white woman who intentionally committed voter fraud received no jail time, but Mason is sentenced to five years? Ginter said Mason was specifically being targeted because she is a Black woman.
“When people of color hear about this, they hear loud and clear the message that the District Attorney is sending and that is — the voting booth is not for you,” she said. “Everyone knows that we have over policed and over prosecuted communities of color. Efforts like this are not only meant to discourage people of color from voting there also meant to drum up the kind of evidence that folks will need in the legislator to pass legislation that’s absolutely proven to discourage minority voting and to suppress minority voting.”
Cole, Mason’s civil rights lawyer, also revealed Texas was trying to incarcerate her immediately.
“They are now trying to revoke her federal supervised release, which would send her immediately to jail. We are fighting that as well. … If they are successful in revoking her federal supervise release, she immediately goes to jail,” Cole said.
This is clearly a tragedy and Fort Worth, Texas, is obviously using Jim Crow tactics to lock up a Black woman who clearly does not deserve to be in jail. Cole and Ginter are working pro bono, but Mason still needs additional counsel.
“There are others who can assist with other aspects of this case, however, they require payment,” Cole explained.
If you would like to help Crystal, please click here for a GoFundMe page and spread the word.
Listen to a clip below of Crystal Mason on The Clay Cane Show on SiriusXM Urban View on Thursday.