Yesterday, Bob Herbert used his column to draw attention to the disturbing case of the Scott sisters of Forest, MS.
Authorities accused Jamie (then 21) and Gladys (then 19) Scott of being involved in an armed robbery where around $11 may have been stolen from a man's wallet. Three teenagers pled guilty to the crime. Initially, these teens' stories supported the Scott sisters' claim of innocence.
Herbert takes up the story:
"A plea deal was arranged in which the teens were required to swear that the women were involved, and two of the teens were obliged, as part of the deal, to testify against the sisters in court.
Howard Patrick, who was 14 at the time of the robbery, said that the pressure from the authorities to implicate the sisters began almost immediately. He testified, 'They said if I didn’t participate with them, they would send me to Parchman and make me out a female.”
The judge gave Jamie and Gladys the extraordinary punishment of two life sentences.
But it gets worse. Now in her 16th year in prison, Jamie Scott has developed end stage renal failure, and will die without dialysis and otherwise adequate medical care.
Living conditions in the prison are harsh, as Jamie Scott wrote this spring:
"The living condition in quickbed area is not fit for any human to live in. I have been incarcerated for 15 years 6 months now and this is the worst I have ever experience. When it rain out side it rain inside. The zone flood like a river. The rain comes down on our heads and we have to try to get sheets and blankets to try to stop it from wetting our beds and personnel property...I am fully aware that we are in prison, but no one should have to live in such harsh condition. I am paranoid of catching anything because of what I have been going throw with my medical condition.
We are living in these harsh conditions, but if you go to the administration offices, they are nice and clean and smell nice because they make sure the inmates clean their offices each day. They tell us to clean the walls. Cleaning the walls will not help anything. Cleaning the walls will not stop the rain from pouring in. it will not stop the mold from growing inside the walls and around us. It will not stop the spiders from mating."
At this point, it's essential that Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour grant Jamie and Gladys Scott clemency.
Gov. Barbour's office can be reached at 1-877-405-0733, or by mail at: P.O. Box 139, Jackson, Mississippi 39205. The email is: email@example.com.
Free The Scott Sisters, a blog maintained in part by the Scott sisters' mother, Evelyn Rasco, has more information.
Mrs. Rasco asks that her daughters' many allies contact the parole board:
Shannon Warnock - Chairman
Bobbie Thomas - Board Member
Clarence Brown - Board Member
Betty Lou Jones - Board Member
Danny Guice - Board Member
State of Mississippi Parole Board
660 North Street
Jackson, MS 39202
Fax: (601) 576-3528
Feel free to post copies of your own letters in the comments.