Sisters Given Life in Prison for Stealing $11 Going Free

I previously wrote about the case of Jamie and Gladys Scott, African-American sisters who were given life in prison for their role as accomplices in a robbery that physically harmed nobody and netted $11. (The armed men who actually committed the crime got out after just a few years.) Sixteen years into their sentence, 38-year-old Jamie developed a medical condition that could kill her, sparked a renewed push to get the sisters released. For the nature of the crime, 16 years was more than long enough a sentence. Over 10,000 member signatures later, the women are going free.

As Matt Kelley reports on the Criminal Justice blog, Mississippie Gov. Haley Barbour finally decided to suspend both sisters sentences. This after a petition drive by the Action Committee for Women in Prison and the intervention of the NAACP, whose director, Benjamin Jealous, had just landed for a talk with the governor when Barbour decided to set the sisters free.

Kelley does point out one creepy part of the decision to free the Scott sisters: Gladys donating her kidney to Jamie is a requirement of the deal. Essentially, Gov. Barbour doesn’t want the state to pay for the surgery while the sisters remain behind bars, so his decision to set them free had a strong money-motivation behind it. I’m glad the sisters will be escaping their absurd and unjust sentence at long last, but seriously, ick.

For the sisters, though, whatever the motivation, this is a second chance at life, one that would not have been granted without the action of their thousands of supporters.

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