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In early February, we reported that 44-year-old Pam “P” Moses was sentenced to six years in prison for registering to vote while she was on probation. She didn’t think she was on probation and had an official certificate that backed her assumption that her probation had ended. But in Shelby County, Tennessee, that didn’t matter. In Shelby County, a Black woman was sentenced to six years in prison over what ultimately amounted to a clerical error.
Also, in that same Shelby County, a white man, who is a former Tennessee sheriff’s deputy, was accused of repeatedly raping a 14-year-old girl. That white man—in the same county and prosecuted by the same prosecutor’s office that sent a Black woman to prison for registering to vote—was granted a plea deal that allowed him to avoid any jail time and he doesn’t even have to register as a sex offender.
According to Fox 13 Memphis, 47-year-old former Shelby County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Beck was indicted on two counts of rape by force or coercion and two counts of sexual battery by an authority figure in 2018. He had been with the sheriff’s office since 2004 but was relieved of his duties without pay after he was charged.
“Investigators in the case said the charges stemmed from incidents involving a teenage girl that occurred over 20 months, dating back to May of 2016,” Fox 13 reported.
On February 28, the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office accepted a plea deal that would allow Beck to plead guilty to aggravated assault. According to NBC News, “Court records show the terms of his sentence include supervised probation for three years and a suspension of a four-year prison sentence unless he violates the terms of his probation.”
Violations of the terms of his probation include him getting arrested against or him having any contact with the teenager he was accused of raping for more than one and a half years.
Leslie Ballin, Beck’s attorney, insisted that Beck has professed his innocence from the start and that he only agreed to the plea deal to avoid a jury trial.
Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich, the same woman who prosecuted Moses, said in a statement Monday: “Given the totality of evidence, we ethically could not proceed to trial on the indicted offenses. The decision was made in consultation with the victim.”
Weirich, of course, had different energy when it came to Moses. As we previously reported, she argued that Moses somehow “tricked” a probation officer into not knowing their job and signing off on the certificate declaring that her probation had ended. Weirich also said Moses “refused to file the correct paperwork and fraudulently voted multiple times,” which Moses denied.
OK, but either way, voting multiple times illegally (especially when Moses didn’t realize she couldn’t legally vote) is a hell of a lot different than raping a child multiple times. Imagine a prosecutor going this hard on the former and putting Moses in prison for six years while also feeling it’s OK to let a man accused of the latter avoid any prison time at all.
Hell, even with the plea deal, it’s wild that in Shelby County aggravated assault of a 14-year-old can result in no prison time while voting in error can get you the better part of a decade in prison.
It’s almost as if there are two legal systems in America.
Now, in the interest of fairness, it’s worth mentioning that while Beck moved to avoid a jury trial, Moses reportedly requested a jury trial, and Werich claims she offered Moses a plea deal that would have allowed her to avoid prison as well.
“I gave her a chance to plead to a misdemeanor with no prison time,” Weirich said in a statement. “She requested a jury trial instead. She set this unfortunate result in motion and a jury of her peers heard the evidence and convicted her.”
None of that explains six years in prison for registering to vote illegally.
The system is either broken or it’s designed to throw Black life away while responding to whiteness with leniency.
I’m going with the latter.