NAACP President Benjamin Jealous is asking Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour to pardon two sisters serving life sentences for their role in a 1993 armed robbery that netted $11.
Jamie and Gladys Scott, then 21 and 19 respectively, each were found guilty of two counts of armed robbery when they were accused of luring two men down a rural road where three men in a following car robbed them at gunpoint.
The three accomplices pleaded guilty and testified against the sisters during the trial. They served prison sentences.
Although prosecutors did not recommend life sentences, the jury had the option of calling for life prison terms.
Jealous said that while the sisters did commit a crime, the punishment they received doesn’t fit the crime.
“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.”
Jealous isn’t alone in his call for leniency. The original prosecutor in the case has stepped forward and said that the sentence is too harsh.
“It was not a particularly egregious case,” former Scott County District Attorney Ken Turner told The Jackson Clarion Ledger. “If there is a legal remedy of them to be relieved of some of that sentence, I would think that it would be appropriate under the circumstances.”
Nearly 200 protesters marched to the Mississippi State Capitol this week to protest the sentence, but Barbour has not taken action. The sisters’ attorney, Chokwe Lumumba, hopes Barbour listens to the protesters and frees the sisters.
“We hope the governor will use this as an opportunity to show what he’s made of, to show even the person who has much more conservative views than we have is made of and what he wants Mississippi to represent and the minds of all those people on a national level that he’s going to be asking to vote for him as either president or vice president in another year or so,” Lumumba said at the rally.