UPDATE: A spokesperson for the Scott Sisters, Nancy Lockhart, announced tonight, Wednesday, January 5, that the Scott Sisters will be released from prison on Friday to start their lives on parole. (read article "Haley Barbour to Free Scott Sisters: Beyond Race to the Bitter Aftertaste"in comments)
Mississippi Gov. Barbour Suspends Scott Sisters' Sentences:
Gladys Scott To Donate Kidney To Jamie Scott
Scott Sisters are Freed! <http://solitarywatch.com/2010/12/29/scott-sisters-are-freed/>
Civil rights activist Dorothy Benford of Jackson, waves a sign with $11 in singles hanging from it to protest the life sentences Jamie and Gladys Scott received for a robbery that netted that same amount, during a rally at the Capitol in Jackson, Miss., in September. (AP)
Below article from mainstream ABC News: WAPT.com
POSTED: 4:45 pm CST Dec 29, 2010. UPDATED: 5:16 pm CST December 30, 2010
Gov. Haley Barbour met Thursday with the NAACP, a day after he suspended the double life sentences for Jamie and Gladys Scott, sisters who have spent years in prison for a robbery that netted $11.
"We all worked together to make justice work in this state," said National NAACP President Benjamin Jealous. "I'm here to thank the people and the governor of Mississippi. When you are right, you are right. Gov. Barbour, you were right today."
According to court records, the Scott sisters were found guilty in 1994 of luring two men down a road near Forest, where three young assailants used a shotgun to rob the men. Gladys Scott is now 36 years old and Jamie Scott is 38 years old.
“To date, the sisters have served 16 years of their sentences and are eligible for parole in 2014. Jamie Scott requires regular dialysis, and her sister has offered to donate one of her kidneys to her," Barbour said in a statement. "The Mississippi Department of Corrections believes the sisters no longer pose a threat to society. Their incarceration is no longer necessary for public safety or rehabilitation, and Jamie Scott’s medical condition creates a substantial cost to the state of Mississippi.
"Barbour said the Mississippi Parole Board reviewed the sisters' case and recommended that he neither pardon them nor commute their sentences.
“At my request, the Parole Board subsequently reviewed whether the sisters should be granted an indefinite suspension of sentence, which is tantamount to parole, and have concurred with my decision to suspend their sentences indefinitely," Barbour said. “Gladys Scott’s release is conditioned on her donating one of her kidneys to her sister, a procedure which should be scheduled with urgency.
"Barbour said the release date for Jamie and Gladys Scott is a matter for the Mississippi Department of Corrections. The sisters' attorney, Chokwe Lumumba, said once released, they will go live with their mother and children in Florida. MDOC Commissioner Chris Epps said on Thursday that the state of Florida has 45 days to investigate the living situation to make sure that it is fit for the Scott sisters.
"Did the governor do this for a political reason? My guess is he did do it for some political reasons, but on the other hand, I want to commend him for a movement which bespoke humanity," Lumumba said. In September, nearly 200 people rallied at the state Capitol asking Barbour to release the sisters.
The Scott sisters had exhausted all of their appeals.
"I'm just so blessed and happy. After 16 years, me and my sister can go home to our family who need us," Gladys Scott said.
Lumumba has been representing the sisters through the appeals process. He said the suspension is a major step forward in achieving justice.
"This is, I think, a definitely serious step forward in their vindication and in their march to absolute liberation," Lumumba said. "They (sisters) were really happy about what's happened and I think the governor did the right thing.
"Members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People had been very vocal in pointing out that the sentence for an $11-armed robbery was excessive and inhumane.
"Mississippi has a history of injustice and we are elated to see justice take place with this case," Mississippi NAACP President Derrick Johnson said.
During a news conference on Thursday held at the state Capitol, Johnson said that the quest for justice doesn't end with the Scott sisters' release."The worst we can do is celebrate today and forget tomorrow," Johnson said. "Injustice is wrong and we're going to stand together to fight it and we have done so successfully today."
Jealous, Lumumba and several other supporters of the Scott sisters also spoke during Thursday's news conference.
Lumumba said he would continue to seek a pardon for the Scott sisters.
"Should the Scott sisters be pardoned? Yes, the Scott sisters should be pardoned. They are at least as deserving as the men the governor has pardoned," Jealous said. "We are heartened because we've noticed that in each case, he actually did what he did for them before they were pardoned."
Previous Stories from WAPT.com:
- September 22, 2010: Miss. Parole Board Considers Scott Sisters' Case
- September 14, 2010: NAACP Chief Asks Governor To Pardon Scott Sisters
- September 13, 2010: Residents Rally To Free Scott Sisters
The full story of their arrest and incarceration, and Jamie Scott’s struggle to stay alive in prison, can be found here and here, while a report on the movement to free the sisters can be found here.
James Ridgeway [of Solitary Watch] Interviewed on Release of Scott Sisters
Solitary Watch’s James Ridgeway was interviewed yesterday on WBUR radio’s “Here and Now” program on the release of Jamie and Gladys Scott. You can listen to the interview here: http://www.hereandnow.org/2010/12/30/mississippi-sister-robbery.
Our original story on the Scott sisters–one of the first to appear–can be found here: http://solitarywatch.com/about/for-jamie-scott-an-11-robbery-in-mississippi-may-carry-a-death-sentence/. Our thoughts on the reasons why Haley Barbour might consider pardoning the sisters appears in this follow-up story: http://solitarywatch.com/2010/09/22/a-chance-at-freedom-for-the-scott-sisters/.
The release is controversial because of the provision that Gladys donate a kidney to her sister Jamie as a condition of release. None of this, however, has dampened the joy of their mother, Evelyn Rasco, whose posts can be found on this Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_174775012538129&id=188210824527881&bcode=i24xm.