Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Scott Sisters will be Released from Prison!!!

The Scott sisters, whose incarceration has drawn national attention, will be released from prison according to a statement from Gov. Haley Barbour this afternoon. Jamie and Gladys Scott were convicted in a 1994 armed robbery which yielded $11, a crime in which they have consistently denied any involvement. Both sisters were sentenced to double-life sentences and have remained imprisoned since their convictions, despite the fact that they were convicted primarily on testimony from three teenagers reportedly coerced by the County Sherriff’s office. One of the witnesses has since recanted his statement and acknowledged that the Scott Sisters are innocent.

Barbour announced he is suspending the sentences indefinitely for Gladys and Jamie Scott.

The NAACP made the Scott sisters case a National Campaign, highlighting it on the NAACP website and blog, gathering thousands of signatures on an internet based petition, and direct appeals to Governor Haley Barbour to put an end to the excessive and inexplicable sentences handed to these women.

In a September 15th letter to the Governor, NAACP President Ben Jealous stated, "It is a travesty that in the state of Mississippi, the lives of two Black women are valued at little more than 11 dollars,” said Jealous. “From the outset, the measures in which the Scott Sisters were convicted were questionable and pattern themselves after dubious criminal justice trends in Mississippi and nationwide. We intend to pursue justice to the fullest extent for the Scott Sisters, and will continue our push for criminal justice reform throughout America.”

President Jealous continued by specifically requesting that Governor Barbour grant a “compassionate medical release” to Jamie Scott in light of her current medical condition. Jaime Scott lost renal function in both of her kidneys and cannot survive without a transplant; her sister and several others have agreed to be a donor but the Department of Corrections had steadfastly refused to allow any tests to determine donor compatibility.

This afternoon, Governor Barbour released a statement that read in part:

"Today, I have issued two orders indefinitely suspending the sentences of Jamie and Gladys Scott. In 1994, a Scott County jury convicted the sisters of armed robbery and imposed two life sentences for the crime. Their convictions and their sentences were affirmed by the Mississippi Court of Appeals in 1996.

“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. 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.

“The Mississippi Parole Board reviewed the sisters’ request for a pardon and recommended that I neither pardon them, nor commute their sentence. 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."

"Gladys Scott's release is conditioned on her donating one of her kidneys to her sister, a procedure which should be scheduled with urgency. The release date for Jamie and Gladys Scott is a matter for the Department of Corrections."

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