Jan 7, 2011

CNN - Mississippi sisters who will exchange kidney to leave jail Friday


(CNN) -- The two Mississippi sisters whose jail sentences were suspended on the condition that one donate a kidney to the other will leave prison Friday, a state official said Thursday.
Gladys and Jamie Scott will be released at 8 a.m. from the prison in Pearl, just outside of Jackson, said Mississippi Department of Corrections spokeswoman Suzanne Singletary. The paperwork has been processed, Singletary said, and the sisters have been informed of the development.
The sisters have spent 16 years in prison over an $11 armed robbery, but Gov. Haley Barbour suspended their sentences December 29 with the stipulation that Gladys Scott, 36, must donate a kidney to her sister, Jamie, 38.


Officials could not confirm when that procedure is expected to take place, though Barbour said last week that the transplant "should be scheduled with urgency."
The pair have been informed and will head to Pensacola, Florida, where their mother lives, to remain under the supervision of the Florida Department of Corrections parole office, Singletary said.
Each of the Scott sisters got two life sentences after they were convicted by a jury of robbing two people near the town of Forest.
Although they would have been eligible for parole in 2014, the Department of Corrections "believes the sisters no longer pose a threat to society" and their incarceration was no longer necessary for rehabilitation, Barbour said in a statement last week.
Jamie Scott's kidney dialysis treatment creates a substantial cost to the state, said Barbour.
Mississippi Corrections Commissioner Christopher B. Epps, who agreed with the decision to suspend the sentences, said the three-times-a-week dialysis cost the state about $190,000 a year.
The Scotts' attorney, Chokwe Lumumba, said Gladys Scott previously offered to make the kidney donation.
The announcement pleased the NAACP and other civil rights advocates, who have pressed for the sisters' release in rallies and at other forums.
"We need more days like this in Mississippi," NAACP President Benjamin Jealous said at a news conference last week at the State Capitol building in Jackson. "We need more days like this in our country."
Lumumba contends the sisters were not involved in the robbery and that there were discrepancies in testimony. The convictions and sentences were upheld in 1996 by the Mississippi Court of Appeals.
In 1993, Gladys and Jamie Scott were arrested and charged with leading two men into an ambush in Scott County, according to CNN affiliate WLBT. Court records show the men were robbed by three teenagers who hit them with a shotgun and took their wallets.
According to The Clarion-Ledger, in Jackson, Mississippi, the sisters had pleaded not guilty as accessories but were convicted of armed robbery, while the three accomplices received lesser sentences and had since been released.
"Regardless of what you think of the convictions, they have served more time than they should have served," Lumumba said.

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