Oct 4, 2010

 
 
 

On December 24, 1993, Scott County Sheriff's Department in Mississippi arrested the sisters for an armed robbery they vehemently deny participation in. In 1994 they were convicted after being implicated in the crime by three young Black men who confessed to the robbery in exchange of a plea bargain that gave them 10 months. The sisters were not offered a plea and went to trial.

Time has passed slowly for these sisters as they watched from behind bars their five children grow into adults and mourned the lost of their father. They have felt the pain of exhausting all their legal remedies while being denied relief at every level.

According to Nancy Lockhart, M.J., a legal analyst who has worked tirelessly over the years to help set free the Scott sisters she says she will never forget the frigid Chicago morning when she opened a letter from Mrs. Evelyn Rasco, the mother of the Scott sisters. She told the story of her daughters and her plight to help free them. "How can they give my daughters two life sentences for a crime that netted 11 dollars where no one was injured?" This prompted Lockhart to become the Scott sister's lifeline for hope. She began a campaign to try freeing them.

The Scott Sisters challenged their convictions on direct appeal arguing that there was insufficient evidence to convict them and the guilty verdict was against the overwhelming weight of evidence, which should have exonerate them. The court of appeals found no error and affirmed the convictions on December 17, 1996. As a result, they filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the Supreme Court, which was denied on May 15, 1997. They consequently filed an Application for Leave to File Motion to Vacate Conviction pursuant to the Mississippi Post Conviction Collateral Relief Act. The Supreme Court also denied that application.

In 1998 one of the sentenced men signed an affidavit telling that the Scott sisters were not involved with the crime. The affidavit along with two others that pointed to the sister's innocence were secured by their attorney and submitted for post conviction relief. Then attorney Chokwe Lumumba submitted a request for commutation of sentence and/or pardon to the governor. It was subsequently denied.

Gladys and Jamie Scott have maintained their innocence. They have spent nearly 15 years in prison for a crime they did not commit that netted the sum of 11 dollars. It is time for them to join their families.  source

 
The sisters have since picked up support for their release from the NAACP and their former prosecutor:
 

The prosecutor, Ken Turner, who since retired, said Tuesday that while he believes they are guilty, some relief for the sisters' sentences is "appropriate."

NAACP President Benjamin Jealous, in Jackson on Tuesday, officially asked Republican Gov. Haley Barbour 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," Jealous said in a statement. "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."

Jackson City Councilman Chokwe Lumumba, a former attorney for the sisters, said he will meet with Lucien Smith, legal counsel for Gov. Haley Barbour, Wednesday morning. "I think we'll have a chance to get first-hand from the attorney what all the requirements are for filing a petition," he said. "He may be able to give us a feel for what the governor thinks."

Advocates for the Scott sisters, who have been ratcheting up calls to pardon them on blogs, podcasts, Facebook pages and YouTube videos, plan a rally Wednesday in Jackson to call on Barbour to order their release.

"I have picked up so many supporters," Rasco said. "I think by people reading this, it really touches their hearts." source


 

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