Miss. Governor Frees Sisters Who Robbed $11 – But With A Catch

Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, preparing for a run for President, has granted clemency to two African-American sisters serving life sentences for an armed robbery 17 years ago. The sisters were convicted of robbing at gunpoint two men who were driving them to a nightclub in northern Mississippi in 1993. They had no prior criminal record and got $11.00. Each was sentenced to two life terms. Civil Rights activists have lobbied for their release arguing the sentences were too long.

The Chair of the Republican Governor’s Association did place one proviso on the pair however. Gladys Scott, 36, will have to donate a kidney to her ill sister, Jamie Scott, 38, who requires dialysis. Now a cynic like me might believe the move was a cost saving one to keep a few dollars in the state coffers, and … I’d be right. According to Barbour, the move was made to relieve a financial burden on the State. No thought of  the harshness of the sentence on two then twenty-something year old “perps.” In Mississippi, the quality of mercy is apparently strained.

Not everybody is happy, however, with the cost-cutting move. “Michael Shapiro, chief of organ transplant at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, has criticized the decision to impose a condition for the release as unethical and possibly illegal.”

Source: Reuters

~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

23 thoughts on “Miss. Governor Frees Sisters Who Robbed $11 – But With A Catch

  1. I have not followed this thing closely but it seems to me that Gov. Barbour just really wants to avoid paying for the womans health care. He is dumping that on the eeeeeevil Federal government.

    But I’d like the opinion of some of the lawyers here – is this constitutional? Can you make someone undergo life altering (at least) surgery as a condition of parole? Seems unconstitutional to me (but then again I didn’t listen in while the read 3/5s of it the other day.

  2. I’m glad to see they were both released on parol. They did not perform the armed robbery, but were accomplices who led the victims into the trap. It was a bonehead move that was deserving of punishment, but life in prison was excessive.

  3. They have already served sixteen years. This does not seem ethical. Well maybe it does to the White Citizens Council. Barbour does make a good republican candidate for president.

  4. Bob Esq.,

    I know that transplant was a motivating factor, but was it a condition of release? If it was actually a condition of release, it would have value, and I think the Governor could see charges pending.

  5. “We’ll commute your sentence here just as soon as you agree to donate a lung to Senator Blowhard’s daughter.”

    Coming soon if this is allowed to stand as a proviso of their release. If Barbour just wanted to release them for cost savings, he should have just released them and kept his pie hole shut about the health issue. This is both unethical and probably a violation of the 4th, 8th and 14th Amendments.

  6. There is also the compatiblity question and they don’t know the answer yet,so then if they don’t match will the sister who is well have to return to prison?

    This was not a pardon if I understand it correctly.

  7. BIL,

    “probably a violation of the 4th, 8th and 14th Amendments”

    A very unique application, but nonetheless correct.

    What I would hate to see is a stink being raised and one or both being sent back to prison.

  8. One of the original stories I read about this around 3-4 weeks ago before the deal was struck said that the sisters were asking to be allowed to donate/receive the kidney prior to Barbour tying it to their parole. I can not now find the article. It sounds like Barbour may have been capitalizing on the situation if what I read was true. It’s still a very bad precedent.

  9. Buddha,
    I have been wondering about this case ever since I first read about it. I cannot understand how this kind of stipulation for parol can be allowed to stand. I do understand that it is Mississippi, but if allowed to stand the precedent would be scary. Not only on the cost savings issue, but the “you can get out if you allow a surgery on yourself” issue.

  10. So much for informed consent. When I was still doing research for a living, the ethics committee would not approve studies if subject compensation was rich enough to be coercive. What could be more coercive than a chance to get out of jail in exchange for a kidney? I would hope that no physician would agree to perform the surgery under those conditions.

  11. What people on this thread are forgetting is that it is more probable than not that the Scott sisters had nothing to do with the robbery of which they were convicted, that convicting them and giving each consecutive life sentences was justified payback against their father by a white sheriff to an uppity nigger who refused to pay the rightful bribes.

    Sixteen years for 11 dollars is bad enough but double life sentences for something they did not do because their black daddy upset the corrupt policeman, well that is so typically Mississippi.

  12. I give up for the moment searching for that particular article. the thing is I do not think explicit evidence of police/prosecutorial malice is necessary, the over the top sentences for the Scott sisters with no criminal records compared with the short ones for the actual perpetrators is enough to indicate the presence of malice towards the Scotts by someone in the justice system.

    A similar case where ridiculous sentencing, 86 years, indicates malice on the part of actors in the US justice system is that of Aafia Siddiqui. I have tried before to attract the professors attention to this case but he has not taken the bait. For those interested this Andy Worthington post is as good an introduction as any. Andy Worthington’s archives are worth searching for further Aafia information.

  13. So, they commit armed robbery and all the leftists get upset when they are actually taken off the street? Why is the amount of loot even relevant? I would just like to point out that EVERY member of the Jena 6 has committed crimes since their release.

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