Robbery That Nets $11.00 Leads to Life Sentences

They say if you are young, black, female, and poor in Mississippi, your chances of being treated like a rich white girl are negligible. If you were Jamie or Gladys Scott of Mississippi you would agree.

In 1993 the Scott sisters were convicted of an armed robbery that netted $11.00. The pregnant 19 year-old and 22 year-old were accused of luring two men to a wooded area and supplying a gun to three males who robbed the men and then left them unharmed. The young men who robbed the victims entered into a plea deal in exchange for testifying against the Scott girls. They received short sentences of two years each. Jamie and Gladys, who had no criminal records, were convicted in a jury trial and were given life sentences. They have now served 16 years.

The girls have maintained their innocence from the outset and their mother believes their treatment is solely as a result of her family’s testimony against a corrupt sheriff, whose successor vowed to retaliate against the Scott’s.

There has been a groundswell of support for a full pardon for the Scott sisters, backed by the NAACP, however, the Mississippi parole board favours a suspension of the balance of their sentences. There is no mercy involved in their recommendation. Not a chance!

The State of Mississippi does not want to pay for the daily dialysis treatment required by Jamie Scott who has end stage kidney disease or the expense of the kidney transplant she urgently requires. Her sister Gladys has agreed to donate one of her kidneys to her sister.

Professor Mark Kleiman at the University of California, Los Angeles points out that African-Americans suffer disproportionately from the costs of crime. Over one million African-Americans are incarcerated in the United States and there is a better than even chance that a black, male, high-school dropout under 30, will be imprisoned.

Professor Kleiman also notes that discrimination against blacks in the criminal justice system includes under-policing in black neighbourhoods and lesser punishments against offenders who victimize poor African-Americans.

Mississippi needs to do better.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

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3 thoughts on “Robbery That Nets $11.00 Leads to Life Sentences

  1. OK, I get the injustice of it all, however, please remember that it seems these two Southern belles supplied the gun and apparently organized the event, then took more than an active part in the crime itself. Aside from the low yield on the crime, there are at least two things that come to mind:

    The participants had no knowledge what the “take” would be from the crime and in my opinion that should not play a significant component;

    The women were the brains and supplied the weapon which could mean that they did not have much regard for the victim’s life one way or another.

    I feel they have likely served an adequate sentence by our loosey goosey Canadian standards, but please, no crocodile tears for these two felons after the fact.

  2. This story became a fascinating political vignette over the weekend as Governor Haley Barbour released the sisters (with a lot of conditions).

    With his release of the Scott sisters being lauded as a “shining example” by the NAACP, it looks like Barbour is undergoing a very deliberate re-imaging of himself. Consider that this is the man who drew fire recently for gaffes like praising Confederate History Month, the racist white Citizen’s Councils as good red blooded patriots and citizens that did the right thing to aid integration, and downplaying any racial conflict in Mississippi during the 1960s.

    He’s backpedaled on all of the above, and though his release of the Scott sisters is layered with conditions such as one sister must donate a kidney to the other sister, Barbour’s general about-face is generally being viewed as him deliberate rewriting himself and the GOP since he is angling for the presidency.

    Regardless of the governor’s political motivations, most people agree that Barbour deserve credit for taking the step to correct a legal wrong.

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