Off Parole; On With Life

A Full Pardon March & Rally for the Scott Sisters
Received per email, written by Asinia Lukata Chikuyu – 6 April 2011

On the strength of about 500 enthusiastic college students, national justice advocates, and local organizers, Jamie and Gladys Scott stood strong on the steps of the Mississippi State Capitol and requested that governor Haley Barbour finish what he started. On January 7, 2011, The Scott Sisters were released from the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility by the governor to save the state the embarrassment of their continued incarceration with potential death looping over Jamie Scott due to kidney failure. At the same time, the governor wanted to save the state the cost of providing for the kidney transplant he order as a condition of the suspended sentence in granted the Scott Sisters.

On Friday, April 1, 2011 the Scott Sisters asked Haley Barbour to allow them to move on with their lives. They told governor barbour that 16 years and 32 days was more than enough time served for a crime that they didn’t commit. They told Haley Barbour that they wanted to vote, go on a get acquainted retreat with their children and grandchildren. They said they wanted to devote their lives to improving the quality of life for others wrongfully incarcerated. To do these things, they said they needed to have freedom of movement and freedom of opportunity to seek gainful employment. They needed the governor to show compassion and grant them a full pardon.

The Scott Sisters said they needed to get “Off Parole and On With Life”. And that was the main chant of the 500 supporters who marched the streets of downtown Jackson and stood at the Capitol Building as colonnade columns, like the ones in the pyramids, for Jamie and Gladys. The students from Fort Valley State University, Tougaloo College and Jackson State University stood tall with The Scott Sisters to urging governor barbour to grant a full pardon out of righteousness.

After freeing five men who actually committed murder, the crowd exhorted haley to earnestly consider the light his decision will shed on the image of Mississippi. Given the shameful history of this state, it was pointed out the healing and redemptive quality of a compassionate decision in favor of Jamie and Gladys would have on this state and this nation. Getting Jamie and Gladys “Off Parole and On With Life” could be a shining star for a brighter future for them, the state and the nation, if only the governor could be convinced.

Call the governor’s office requesting a full pardon at 601.359.3150 or 1-877-405.0733 or email the governor to request a full pardon at governor@governor.state.ms.us

As Afrikans in America continue to fight for freedom, justice and equity, we are fighting because – “We declare our right on this earth to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary”. And we are sick and tired of being the only ones showing respect. That is why we’re here without fear and we want our sisters totally free. That is why we will be back here on September 15, 2011 again, bigger and stronger, if it is necessary to convince the state that denying justice to Jamie and Gladys is a threat to justice for all of us. On September 15th we’ll be facing the rising sun of our new day begun, let us march on ’til victory is won. Our prayer is “may we forever stand, true to our God, true to our native land”.

DON’T FORGET TO SIGN THE ONLINE PETITION!
http://www.change.org/petitions/a-full-pardon-for-jamie-gladys-scott#?opt_new=t&opt_fb=f

Asinia Lukata Chikuyu
FREE YOUR MIND…
& see what follows

———–
See also this story on Reuters.

Shame on Mississippi! Article: For Two Sisters, the End of an Ordeal

For Two Sisters, the End of an Ordeal
By BOB HERBERT
Published: December 31, 2010
New York Times
I got a call on New Year’s Eve from Gladys Scott, which was a terrific way for 2010 to end.

As insane as it may seem, Gladys and her sister, Jamie, are each serving consecutive life sentences in a state prison in Mississippi for their alleged role in a robbery in 1993 in which no one was hurt and $11 supposedly was taken.

Gladys was on the phone, excited and relieved, because Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi had agreed to suspend the prison terms.

“I’ve waited so long for this day to come,” she said.

I was happy for the Scott sisters and deeply moved as Gladys spoke of how desperately she wanted to “just hold” her two children and her mother, who live in Florida. But I couldn’t help thinking that right up until the present moment she and Jamie have been treated coldly and disrespectfully by the governor and other state officials. It’s as if the authorities have found it impossible to hide their disdain, their contempt, for the two women.

The prison terms were suspended — not commuted — on the condition that Gladys donate a kidney to Jamie, who is seriously ill with diabetes and high blood pressure and receives dialysis at least three times a week. Gladys had long expressed a desire to donate a kidney to her sister, but to make that a condition of her release was unnecessary, mean-spirited, inhumane and potentially coercive. It was a low thing to do.

Governor Barbour did not offer any expression of concern for Jamie’s health in his statement announcing the sentence suspension.

He said of the sisters: “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.”

By all means, get those medical costs off the books if you can.

I asked Gladys how she had learned that she was to be released. “Oh, I saw it while I was looking at the news on television,” she said.

The authorities hadn’t bothered to even tell the sisters. After all, who are they? As Gladys put it, “Nobody told me a thing.”

I asked if she had seen Jamie, who is in another section of the prison, since the governor’s decision had been announced. She said no one had tried to get the two of them together for even a telephone conversation.

“I haven’t seen her or heard from her,” Gladys said. “I want to see her. I want to see how she’s doing and take care of her.”

I am not surprised at Governor Barbour’s behavior. He’s not the first person who comes to mind when I think of admirable public officials. The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss., noted that the governor had been on the radio this week asserting that there was hardly anyone in prison who didn’t deserve to be there. It’s an interesting comment from a governor who has repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to free prisoners convicted of the most heinous crimes.

The Jackson Free Press, an alternative weekly, and Slate magazine have noted that Mr. Barbour has pardoned four killers and suspended the life sentence of a fifth. So cold-blooded murder is no reason, in Mr. Barbour’s view, to keep the prison doors closed.

This is also a governor who said recently, while reminiscing about the civil rights struggle and the treatment of blacks in his hometown of Yazoo City, Miss., in the 1960s: “I just don’t remember it being that bad.” The comment was in an article in The Weekly Standard in which the governor managed to find some complimentary things to say about the rabidly racist White Citizens Councils.

Faced with heavy and widespread criticism, he later pulled back on the comments, describing the era as “difficult and painful” and the councils as “indefensible.”

The only reason the Scott sisters have gotten any relief at all is because of an extraordinary network of supporters who campaigned relentlessly over several years on their behalf. Ben Jealous, the president of the N.A.A.C.P., emerged as one of the leaders of the network. The concerted effort finally paid off.

Gladys Scott said her 16 years in prison have been extremely difficult and that she had gotten depressed from time to time but had not given up hope. “It was a very bad experience, ” she said.

What is likely to get lost in the story of the Scott sisters finally being freed is just how hideous and how outlandish their experience really was. How can it be possible for individuals with no prior criminal record to be sentenced to two consecutive life terms for a crime in which no one was hurt and $11 was taken? Who had it in for them, and why was that allowed to happen?

The Scott sisters may go free, but they will never receive justice.
————————
Many people helped to free the Scott Sisters, first and foremost their mother Mrs. Evelyn Rasco, Nancy Lockhart, Jim Ridgeway, many hundreds of grassroots supporters that  kept this the reality of the injustice done to them alive. 
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/01/opinion/01herbert.html?ref=opinion
A version of this op-ed appeared in print on January 1, 2011, on page A19 of the New York edition.

Scott Sisters to be freed! Barbour suspends sentences

Great news!
From: Hattiesburg American:

Dec 29, 2010

Gov. Haley Barbour today suspended the prison terms for two Scott County sisters sentenced to life for an $11 armed robbery in Scott County.

Barbour issued orders indefinitely suspending the sentences for Jamie Scott and Gladys Scott.

“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,” Barbour said in a prepared release.

“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.”

Read the rest here.

See more in Thursday’s Hattiesburg American.

See also here, apparently the mainstream media has woken up!: Washington Post.

Miss. Gov. Haley Barbour to free sisters sentenced to life in prison for robbery

Washington Post

By Krissah Thompson

Wednesday, December 29, 2010; 10:35 PM

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) announced late Wednesday that he will grant an early release from prison to two sisters serving unusually long sentences for armed robbery.

Gladys and Jamie Scott have each served 16 years of a life sentence. Their case had become a cause celebre among civil rights groups, including the NAACP, which mounted a national campaign to free the women.
The Scotts were convicted in 1994 for an armed robbery in which they led two men into an ambush. The men were robbed of $11, and their supporters contend that the Scotts, who are black, received extraordinary punishment for the crime.

Barbour said he decided to suspend the sentences in light of the poor health of 38-year-old Jamie Scott, who requires regular dialysis. The governor asserted that 36-year-old Gladys Scott’s release is contingent on her giving a kidney to her inmate sibling.

“The Mississippi Department of Corrections believes the sisters no longer pose a threat to society,” Barbour said in a statement. “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.”
NAACP President Benjamin Jealous will meet with Barbour on Thursday, and the two men have scheduled a joint news conference.

“This is a shining example of how governors should use their commutation powers,” Jealous said in an interview, praising Barbour’s decision.

Read the rest here.

Barbour suspends sentences for Scott sisters

Great news!
From: Hattiesburg American:

Dec 29, 2010

Gov. Haley Barbour today suspended the prison terms for two Scott County sisters sentenced to life for an $11 armed robbery in Scott County.

Barbour issued orders indefinitely suspending the sentences for Jamie Scott and Gladys Scott.

“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,” Barbour said in a prepared release.

“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.”

Read the rest here.

See more in Thursday’s Hattiesburg American.

See also here, apparently the mainstream media has woken up!: Washington Post.

Free the Scott Sisters: Grace calling Mississippi.

Hey Friends of Justice out there:
Don’t let Governor Barbour leave Jamie and Gladys to die in prison.

This week is a pretty critical time for folks to be contacting the Governor of Mississippi to implore him to pardon Jamie and Gladys Scott. I’m posting one of the more recent news editorials detailing their struggle below. You can also hit their mom’s blogspot for more info (Evelyn Rasco – such a beautiful soul – is their mom; Nancy Lockhart and Sis Marpessa are their champions). Be prepared for some awesome gospel, blues, and soul to stream through when you open it (that means crank up your speakers, not turn them down)!


The conditions of the prison they’re in – particularly the trailer where Jamie receives dialysis treatments (when the machine is working, that is) are horrendous – but you needn’t make reference to that in your communication with Governor Barbour’s office about the pardon – there’s an appropriate contact for that below.

If you’re a registered Republican – even from outside of Mississippi – please share that with Governor Barbour in your letter, as the man will likely be running for national office in 2012. It would help for him to know that real Republicans are interested in seeing that Americans are capable of delivering both justice and mercy when we’ve been wrong…

Here’s the info to reach Governor Haley Barbour (visit that link, first, to get to know a little about him):

Honorable Haley Barbour
P.O. Box 139
Jackson, Mississippi 39205

1-877-405-0733

You may also want to put something on letterhead and e-mail it as an attachment to the governor’s personal assistant – Dorothy Kuykendal:


Jamie Scott (center) with Mom and brother.

Also, check out this recent post and please contact the Mississippi health department regarding the black mold, toilets in Quick Bed and inadequate infrastructure in this dialysis trailer which are all located at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Pearl, Mississippi. There are a lot of lives at stake – the survival rates for sick Mississippi prisoners have plummeted in recent years under the current health care provider, Wexford – Mother Jones did an excellent piece on this in March.

Jeffrey K. Brown, Ph.D., R.P.E., B.C.E.
Bureau Director
State Public Health Entomologist
Mississippi State Department of Health
570 East Woodrow Wilson Avenue
Jackson, Mississippi 39216

601.576.7972 Office
601.576.7632 Fax
769.257.2242 Cell


Here’s the latest article giving some background on Jamie and Gladys. Please take action on their behalf THIS WEEK.

———-From the Seattle Times via Free The Scott Sisters———-

Sisters may or may not be guilty, but Mississippi assuredly is

Leonard Pitts Jr.
Sunday, November 21, 2010

Let’s assume they did it.

Let’s assume that two days before Christmas in 1993, a 22-year-old black woman named Jamie Scott and her pregnant 19-year-old sister Gladys set up an armed robbery. Let’s assume these single mothers lured two men to a spot outside the tiny town of Forest, Miss., where three teenage boys, using a shotgun the sisters supplied, relieved the men of $11 and sent them on their way, unharmed.

Assume all of the above is true, and still you must be shocked at the crude brutality of the Scott sisters’ fate. You see, the sisters, neither of whom had a criminal record before this, are still locked away in state prison, having served 16 years of their double-life sentences.

It bears repeating. Each sister is doing double life for a robbery in which $11 was taken and nobody was hurt. Somewhere, the late Nina Simone is moaning her signature song:

“Mississippi Goddam.”

For the record, two of the young men who committed the robbery testified against the sisters as a condition of their plea bargain. All three reportedly received two-year sentences and were long ago released. No shotgun or forensic evidence was produced at trial. The sisters have always maintained their innocence.

Observers are at a loss to explain their grotesquely disproportionate sentence. Early this year, the Jackson Advocate, a weekly newspaper serving the black community in the state capital, interviewed the sisters’ mother, Evelyn Rasco. She described the sentences as payback for her family’s testimony against a corrupt sheriff. According to her, that sheriff’s successor vowed revenge.

You don’t have to believe that to believe this: Mississippi stands guilty of a grievous offense against simple decency.

But there is hope. Recently, the sisters’ cause has been championed by high-powered allies. New York Times columnist Bob Herbert and the NAACP have called on Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour to pardon the two women. I add my voice to theirs.

I have no way of knowing if the Scott sisters’ fate is tied in to some sheriff’s revenge and at some level, the question is moot. Whatever the proximate cause of this ridiculous sentence, the larger cause is neon clear: the Scott sisters are black women in the poorest state in the union. And as report after report has testified, if you are poor or black (and God help you if you are both), the American justice system has long had this terrible tendency to throw you away like garbage. Historically, this has been especially true in the South.

If you doubt it, play with the scenario in your head. Try to imagine some rich white girl doing double life for an $11 robbery. You can’t.

But then, that girl has access to a brand of justice unavailable to women like Jamie and Gladys Scott. She will receive every break the law allows her and maybe a few it does not. No one will throw her away.

And while it would be nice to think this problem of discarding people’s lives would be solved by the release of the Scott sisters, the truth is, that wouldn’t even address it.

How many other Scott sisters and brothers are languishing behind bars for no good reason, doing undeserved hard time on nonexistent evidence, perjured testimony, prosecutorial misconduct or sheer racial or class bias?

So fixing the problem the Scott sisters represent involves nothing less than the reformation of the justice system, a commitment to make it, as the name implies, a system that reliably produces “justice” as opposed to these too frequent miscarriages thereof.

Meantime, Jamie Scott, who is in her late 30s now, is in poor health. She is said to be losing her vision and both her kidneys have failed. And we wait for common sense to take hold in Mississippi.

It is a situation that shocks the senses, even if we assume they did it.

Now, assume they did not.

Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr.’s column appears regularly on editorial pages of The Times. His e-mail address is: lpitts@miamiherald.com

From: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/editorialsopinion/2013477385_pitts21.html

Free the Scott Sisters: Grace calling Mississippi.


Hey Friends of Justice out there:
Don’t let Governor Barbour leave Jamie and Gladys to die in prison.




This week is a pretty critical time for folks to be contacting the Governor of Mississippi to implore him to pardon Jamie and Gladys Scott. One of the more recent news editorials detailing their struggle is already posted below. You can also hit their mom’s blogspot for more info (Evelyn Rasco – such a beautiful soul – is their mom; Nancy Lockhart and Sis Marpessa are their champions). Be prepared for some awesome gospel, blues, and soul to stream through when you open it (that means crank up your speakers, not turn them down)!


The conditions of the prison they’re in – particularly the trailer where Jamie receives dialysis treatments (when the machine is working, that is) are horrendous – but you needn’t make reference to that in your communication with Governor Barbour’s office about the pardon – there’s an appropriate contact for that below.


If you’re a registered Republican – even from outside of Mississippi – please share that with Governor Barbour in your letter, as the man will likely be running for national office in 2012. It would help for him to know that real Republicans are interested in seeing that Americans are capable of delivering both justice and mercy when we’ve been wrong…


Here’s the info to reach Governor Haley Barbour (visit that link, first, to get to know a little about him):

Honorable Haley Barbour
P.O. Box 139
Jackson, Mississippi 39205


1-877-405-0733
governor@governor.state.ms.us


You may also want to put something on letterhead and e-mail it as an attachment to the governor’s personal assistant – Dorothy Kuykendal:

DKuykendall@governor.state.ms.us

Jamie Scott (center) with Mom and brother.



Also, check out this recent post and please contact the Mississippi health department regarding the black mold, toilets in Quick Bed and inadequate infrastructure in this dialysis trailer which are all located at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Pearl, Mississippi. There are a lot of lives at stake – the survival rates for sick Mississippi prisoners have plummeted in recent years under the current health care provider, Wexford – Mother Jones did an excellent piece on this in March.

Jeffrey K. Brown, Ph.D., R.P.E., B.C.E.
Bureau Director
State Public Health Entomologist
Mississippi State Department of Health
570 East Woodrow Wilson Avenue
Jackson, Mississippi 39216


601.576.7972 Office
601.576.7632 Fax
769.257.2242 Cell


jeffrey.brown@msdh.state.ms.us
www.healthyms.com