December 30, 2010

Gov. Haley Barbour Tries to Assuage His White Guilt by Releasing the Scott Sisters from Mississippi Prison

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour is finally doing the right thing ... albeit for the wrong reasons. Barbour agreed to free two sisters who served 16 years of a double life sentence for an armed robbery in which nobody was hurt and $11 was stolenJamie and Gladys Scott should never have been sent to jail in the first place.

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.

"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.

"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.


Joanna said...

We also need to remember that Mississippi is also under a microscope right now because of the lynching of Frederick Jermaine Carter. I am sure his decision as impacted by that as well.... all eyes are on his state right now, so Haley Barbour is hoping for some good political karma.

citychic said...

I am glad these women were released they deserved it, and more, but what I don't understand is why their release was conditioned on the fact that one give the other a kidney. That seems to me that, that should have been between the sisters and their family not the government. They should have been released because it was the right thing to do considering how wronged these women were. God bless them and I wish them the best!

Unknown said...

Joanna - This is my first time hearing about Mr. Carter. I'll do some research and see if I can't share the story with other villagers on this blog. Thanks for the heads up.

CityChic - I agree with you that it is highly unusual for the governor to use the kidney transplant as a reason for their release. I would prefer that he simply give them a pardon because of the racially-biased nature of their conviction back in 1993.

APoetNamedRyRy said...

Armed Robbery is a felony. regardless of how much was taken. If i put a gun in your face would you think I was playing around. should have killed the scum