Civil rights proponents in Mississippi are claiming victory in the release of the Scott Sisters, two women who were sentenced to two life sentences for an armed robbery that netted just $11.
News broke yesterday that Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour will suspend the sentences of 36-year-old Gladys Scott and her 38-year-old sister, Jamie, under the condition that Gladys donates a kidney to her older sister, who requires daily dialysis.
The two sisters were convicted in 1994 of leading two men into an ambush to be robbed. During the robbery, three teenagers hit the men with a shotgun and stole their wallets—garnering only $11. Although the women were not involved with the actual robbery or assault of the victims, they were convicted of two counts of armed robbery and given two life sentences.
Civil rights activists, including the NAACP, have been working for years to free the women, asserting that their sentences were excessive. They are ecstatic that the two will soon be freed.
“I think it’s a victory,” said the sisters’ attorney, Chokwe Lumumba. “I talked to Gladys and she’s elated about the news. I’m sure Jamie is, too.”
Although the sisters were eligible for parole in 2014, Governor Barbour suspended their sentences citing that the two are no longer a threat to society and Jamie’s dialysis is costing the state a lot of money.
According to The Associated Press, the Governor’s spokesperson says, “Jamie Scott was released because she needs the transplant. He said Gladys Scott will be released if she agrees to donate her kidney because of the significant risk and recovery time.”
The Governor’s decision to grant an “indefinite suspension” of the sisters’ sentence, instead of granting the sisters a pardon or commuting their sentences, means that his decision can be reversed if the conditions (donating the kidney and meeting with parole officers) are not met.
Even though word came down from the Governor yesterday, it could take about 45 days for the sisters to be released. Still the sisters and their supporters are elated about Governor Barbour’s decision.