Several hundred people rallied last week in Jackson, Miss., calling for freedom for Jamie and Gladys Scott, two Black women given double life sentences in 1992 for allegedly being accessories to an armed robbery. A total of $11 was stolen during the robbery. The Scott sisters were 19 and 20 years old when convicted and have been incarcerated since 1994.
Three men were arrested in the case and turned state's evidence; they served several months and were released.
Having exhausted all state appeals, the two women, both mothers, have called out for help. "We have exhausted all of our appeals in our fight for freedom," they say. "We now realize we are unable to receive justice within the Mississippi judicial system. Our hopes and dreams of freedom lie with the American people."
A national movement is growing and is demanding Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour grant clemency in what has become known as the Scott Sisters case. On September 14, NAACP President Benjamin Jealous lent his voice to the call for a pardon. "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."
The NAACP has initiated a petition campaign to insure the Scott Sisters' release.
Ken Turner, the original prosecutor in the case, has added his voice to the campaign. ""If there is a legal remedy of them to be relieved of some of that sentence, I would think that it would be appropriate under the circumstances," he said.
The assistant prosecutor, Matt Duncan, however, has takes a different view. "My position on this is they were tried and found guilty and sentenced by a jury. I don't know what else there is to say about it," Duncan said.
Lawyers, led by attorney Chokwe Lumumba, met with the governor's staff last week. In addition, state Rep. Credell Calhoun, D-Jackson, said the Black Caucus in the state Legislature sent a letter urging Gov. Barbour to order the sisters released.
Labor, civil rights and community groups joined the protest at the state Capitol.