Here is the statement from Gov. Barbour:
"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.
"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.
"I would like to thank Representative George Flaggs, Senator John Horne, Senator Willie Simmons, and Representative Credell Calhoun for their leadership on this issue. These legislators, along with former Mayor Charles Evers, have been in regular contact with me and my staff while the sisters' petition has been under review."
Of course it made too much sense for Barbour to simply commute their sentence without the ludicrous and unconstitutional condition that one sister (Gladys) donate a kidney to her sister, who requires dialysis at least three times per day.
Villagers are reminded that the Scott sisters were convicted of robbing at gunpoint two men driving them to a nightclub in Forest, north Mississippi, in 1993. They had no prior criminal record. Each was sentenced to two life terms.
They have served 16 years for a conviction that never would have occurred if they were white. Being Black and poor in Mississippi means that the judicial system can truly phuque with you ... as the Scott sister learned.
Gov. Barbour is taking big-time heat for his racist recollections of his childhood in KKK-dominated southern hometown. I figure that he realized he couldn't afford to continue to ignore the growing protests about the unjust and inhumane imprisonment of these two Black women. Barbour saw a chance to end the protest and get the Scott sisters the heck out of Mississippi (...they plan to move in with their mother who lives in Florida). So, in my mind, Barbour is making this move for his own political reasons ... he is a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012 ... and not because he believes it is the right thing to do in his heart.
However, a good deed ... even if done for wrong reasons ... is still a good deed. This blog is glad to see Barbour taking these steps. We understand it may take up to 45 days for the sisters to be physically released from the prison. Our hope is that Barbour will get that done sooner rather than later.