At 9 a.m. on Jan. 7, the Scott sisters drove away from the state detention center in Mississippi for the first time in 16 years, a day that many of their family members and supporters never thought would come.
“We’re just totally blessed, totally blessed,” Gladys Scott said at a press conference. “It’s been a long hard road but we made it. It was times when we wanted to give up but I told my sister ‘We’re going to make it. We’re coming up out of here. We’re not going to die.’”
The sisters were both given life sentences after they allegedly lured two men down a road where they were robbed by three teens. They were convicted of robbery with a deadly weapon, while the teenagers only served two years in prison. But after repeated demonstrations and appeals, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour suspended those sentences in December.
Gladys’ sister Jamie said she told other inmates that she and her sister would not have to see every day of the life sentences they were given.
“I kept the faith. I used to tell all the girls in prison ‘All of our appeals are gone. I don’t know how God is going to do it, but I do know God will show up and he will show out,’” Jamie said. “He did show up and show out.”
“I never thought this day would come when we would be on the outside of the walls when I’ve been so bound on the inside of the walls,” she added.
The fight isn’t over for the sisters yet. They will still fight to seek a full pardon from the state. But also, as a condition of release, Gladys had to agree to donate Jamie a kidney. A test still needs to be administered to see if Gladys is a match.
However, the sisters say they hold no grudges against the teenagers involved or the Mississippi judge and jury whom gave them the unusually harsh sentences. They said they wouldn’t have been able to survive more than a decade and a half in prison any other way.
“We couldn’t have made it in that prison being bitter. We couldn’t have done it – it wouldn’t work,” Jamie said. “Being bitter is not the answer to anything.”
NAACP officials said they are planning a demonstration celebrating the release of the sisters on Apr. 1.