Jamie and Gladys Scott – the “Scott Sisters” – were incarcerated in Mississippi for 16 years for an armed robbery which, according to court testimony, yielded $11. They have consistently denied involvement in the crime, and although neither sister had a prior criminal record, they were each sentenced to serve double life.
On December 29, 2010, Governor Haley Barbour suspended their life sentences on the condition that Gladys donate a kidney to Jamie who suffers from kidney disease. The sisters were released from prison on January 7, 2011. They moved to Pensacola, Florida, where they remain on parole for the rest of their lives, and where Jamie continues to receive medical treatment.
Jamie and Gladys told EURweb.com recently about what life has been like since their release. They also wish to encourage activists to support their continued fight for freedom by signing this change.org petition asking President Obama to write a letter of recommendation to the state of Mississippi requesting a pardon or full clemency.
“They don’t want to release us because they do feel like we’re guilty,” Jamie said. “They pardon murderers and rapists. No one was killed or hospitalized in our situation, but (they) won’t give us a pardon.”
The Scott Sisters explained that the transition from prison back into society was arduous and scary.
“Being locked up for so many years, you lose touch of reality,” said Jamie. “Doing simple things like going into the store to buy things freaked us out in the beginning. The prison system don’t teach you how to transition back into the world. Only thing they teach you is how to come out and be angry.”
The sisters penned a book called Resurrecting Life, From Double Life Sentences, which chronicles their early life struggles, the robbery conviction and subsequent release. They are touring the book, hoping their story will inspire others and give hope. However, the state of Mississippi recently denied them entry as part of their tour, and the sisters believe the decision was an attempt to silence them.
“I think writing this book has affected us going back to Mississippi,” Jamie Scott said. “We’ve been telling our story from day one. I think actually putting it in black and white, Mississippi denied our entry because they don’t want people to read it.”
Their lawyer at the time, Chokwe Lumumba, said that the way the state handled the case had “a racial prism to it” – saying, “Two white girls would have no way gotten two life sentences.”
“People can see that racism is still going on,” said Gladys. “Why deny us entry into Mississippi? That’s our home. Anybody that looks into this can see that something’s not right.”
The sisters both had children before they were incarcerated, with Gladys giving birth to a daughter in prison who was raised by her mother.
“They live in Florida with us,” Gladys said of their kids. “My mom did the best she could. She brought them up there, (but) when we got out, they don’t know us, and we’re trying to build it but it falls a part because it goes back to, they don’t know us.”
“I have custody of my oldest grandson,” Gladys continued, “and Jamie has custody of my sister’s daughter, the one that passed away while we were incarcerated. Every time my grandson hears a knock on the door, he scared it’s somebody to come take me away. It frightens me because I know one day they can come and knock on my door and put handcuffs on me and he’ll go back to the state, and I don’t want him to have to live like that. I want him to have a normal life. Like me and Jamie, we don’t have a normal life – and now my burden is on him. Why should a child have to live like that?”
The Scott Sisters feel the state is violating their rights by requiring that they report to a parole officer for the remainder of their lives.
“We’re seeking a good lawyer,” Gladys said. “We need somebody that’s gonna fight for us.”
Please support the Scott Sisters continued fight for freedom by signing this change.org petition.
(Photo: Scott Sisters Facebook page)