Crystal Mason is going back to prison for a reason, and it does not hinge on whether or how she voted.
Mason, 43, of Rendon, is on her way back to prison to serve 10 more months on a five-year federal sentence for inflating clients’ tax returns.
Before she ever tried to vote unlawfully in the 2016 election, Mason had been given a second chance.
She was released from prison two years early in a tax preparation fraud case where she also had to pay $4.2 million in restitution.
That was her second chance - to get out of prison, stay out of trouble, meet the conditions of supervised release and start making payments.
She has failed to respect both the payment schedule and Texas election law.
Earlier this year, a state district judge sentenced her to five years in state prison. A jury found her guilty of trying to vote when she was still under court supervision.
(Felons can vote in Texas, but only after they successfully complete probation or parole.)
That sentence is too strong for a violation that amounted to so little. But that is another debate, unrelated to why Mason was sent back to prison on her tax fraud case.
Mason tried to vote, but found she wasn’t on the list. An election worker even coached her through how to cast a provisional vote, which was not counted.
But whether her sentence for illegal voting had been five years or five days, it still violated conditions of her federal sentence in the tax fraud case. As a result, she owed more time.
U.S. District Judge John McBryde could have returned Mason to prison for up to two years to complete her sentence for tax fraud. Instead, he chose to sentence her to only 10 more months, followed by 26 months of federal probation.
Under federal law, that is a reasonable sentence, particularly in such a large tax fraud case. Frankly, it’s more reasonable than her state sentence.
In sentencing Mason, McBryde pointed out that she also had violated probation in a previous case as a young adult.
Activists nationwide, concerned about whether Texas election law is enforced more harshly in Republican Tarrant County, have asked for Mason to get a second chance.
After she serves more time for tax fraud, she will be eligible for yet another second chance.