Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Backers Hopeful Sisters To Be Freed Pair Serving Life Sentences For Robbery; Governor Orders Review

Video: Hundreds Rally For Mississippi Sisters (02:36)

Hundreds rally in support of Jamie and Gladys Scott, currently serving life sentences since 1994 for an $11 armed robbery.
Backers Hopeful Sisters To Be Freed Pair Serving Life Sentences For Robbery; Governor Orders Review  
Chris Joyner 
The Clarion Ledger
October 13, 2010 

Family members and advocates for the Jamie and
Gladys Scott, sisters serving life terms in
Mississippi for their role in a 1993 robbery, are
optimistic they may be released soon.
"I wish they would just hurry up and let them out,"
said their mother, Evelyn Rasco. "I hope that is
where it is leading to. That would be the only
justified thing to do."

Rasco, 64, has been working for 16 years to free her
daughters by writing letters, calling officials and
appearing on talk radio shows around the nation,
each time maintaining the Scott sisters are innocent.

But prosecutors maintained at trial that Jamie and
Gladys Scott were the masterminds in an $11 armed
robbery in rural Scott County.

The case rested on the testimony of two of the three
young men who participated in the robbery and
made deals with authorities for lesser sentences.
The Scott sisters pleaded not guilty and were
sentenced by a jury to life in prison, despite having
no prior criminal past.

The three men all have served their sentences and
been released.

The lengthy sentences have attracted the attention of
national media, including most recently New York
Times op-ed columnist Bob Herbert. In a column
published Tuesday, Herbert said the penalty
imposed on the sisters "takes your breath away."

"This is Mississippi we're talking about, a place that
in many ways has not advanced much beyond the
Middle Ages," Herbert wrote.

Yet Jackson City Councilman Chokwe Lumumba, the
sisters' last attorney of record and an advocate for
their release, said he is impressed with the speed in
which Gov. Haley Barbour and the Mississippi
Parole Board res
ponded to recent calls to have the
case reviewed.

More than 300 people, including local and state
elected officials, marched on the state Capitol last
month calling for the sisters' release. Ken Turner,
the former district attorney who prosecuted the
case, said last month that he believed reducing the
sisters' sentences would be "appropriate."

Barbour has asked the state Parole Board to review
the case and make a recommendation for possible

Shannon Warnock said there is no timetable for a
completion of the board's investigation, but she
said the board's investigator has been told it is a
top priority.

Lumumba said the investigator interviewed both
sisters, fueling belief that an appearance before the
full board is near.

"I believe that all signs should be to let them out,"
Lumumba said. "I can't imagine any good reason
why the governor can't pardon them or release

Nancy Lockhart, a legal researcher who has worked
with Rasco for five years to help free the sisters,
said she is encouraging supporters to write the
Parole Board.

While a spokesman for the governor said Barbour
would not reverse the jury's decision of guilt,
Lockhart and Rasco said the sisters want their
record cleared.

"That would be something that Jamie and Gladys will  
have to decide, but I don't think they would be
happy with parole," Lockhart said.

Relations are strained between Rasco and Lumumba.
Rasco says Lumumba abandoned the effort to free
her daughters for a decade. Lumumba said he would
be satisfied with release for the sisters under any

"I just want them out of there," he said. "I like to
think that (Barbour) is sensitive to the fact that he
doesn't want Mississippi to look bad and he doesn't
want to look bad and that it's the right thing to do."

Of some concern is Jamie Scott's health. She has lost
function in both kidneys and requires regular
dialysis, according to advocates and prison
officials. While prison officials say Jamie Scott, 38,
is stable, Lumumba said her medical condition is
another factor in favor of release.

If freed, Lumumba said Gladys Scott, 36, wants to
donate a kidney to her sister.

To comment on this story, call Chris Joyner at
(601) 360-4619.

Listen To The W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio Specials:

Still Strange Fruit: 'The Eyes Of Willie McGee' Author Alex Heard & Major Scott Sisters Update (2nd Hour)...
All Eyes Are Still On Mississippi: Free The Scott Sisters!!!

Also On W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio...
***Check Out The Scott Sisters Update Featuring Sis. Nancy Lockhart 3/24/2010 (Starts In The 2nd Hour)***

More Scott Sisters On W.E. A.L.L. B.E.:


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