All criminal charges against Pamela Moses have been dropped after she was originally sentenced to six years in prison for attempting to register to vote in the city of Memphis. Moses was told by her probation officer that she had completed her probation from a 2015 felony conviction, which was confirmed by the officer with a form he filled out and signed on her behalf. Unknown to Moses, she had permanently lost her right to vote in the state of Tennessee.
According to The Guardian, the probation officer admitted to making the documentation error, and yet, prosecutors painted Moses out to be intentionally deceptive, stating that she was aware of her eligibility status, and that she had intentionally tried to deceive the officer.
When the news of the sentencing first broke, Moses’ story made national headlines. The public became outraged by the fact that while this Black woman would be forced behind bars for an honest mistake, white defendants across the country were getting off with a slap on the wrist after knowingly impersonating family members at the ballot, and committing other acts of voting fraud.
After her sentencing in January, she was granted a new trial in February after The Guardian published a document that had not been previously given to Moses’ defense prior to her trial. In the email obtained through public records by voting rights reporter Sam Levine, it was concluded that the probation officer, Manager Billigton “failed to adequately investigate the status of this case.”
Moses had already spent 82 days in jail before being granted a new trial, a length of time that Shelby County district attorney Amy Weirich said “is sufficient.” In an official statement made by Weirich, she additionally stated that “In the interest of judicial economy, we are dismissing her illegal registration case and her violation of probation.”
Tennessee continues to be one of the hardest states to restore voting rights, with unclear requirements around eligibility, making it difficult to know where you stand as a citizen with prior felony convictions. Moses has yet to make a public statement, communicating to The Guardian via telephone that she is still processing the news. She is planning however to host a press conference on Monday in Memphis.