Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Nice Thing

by Dick Mac

Jamie Scott (pictured) and her sister Gladys participated in an armed robbery in their early twenties, and have been serving life sentences since their trials ended in guilty verdicts in 1994. They would have become eligible for parole in 2014, after serving twenty years.

Nobody was killed during the robbery, and many have thought the sentence was a bit harsh. However, if you look at the circumstances you see that the sentences make total sense: they are black, their victims were white, and it happened in Mississippi.

Many have complained that the sentences were too harsh, the implication being that they would never have been given life sentences if they were white women and/or their victims were black. I think this is true, but that's the way things go in America.

If you're black in the South then your greatest crime is staying in the South. Hell, I believe it's a crime to stay in the South even if you're white! Most smart Southerners come North, and I've never heard a single one of them clamouring to get back to the old sod of South Carolina or Mississippi or Alabama, or even Virginia, North Carolina and Florida. I mean, it's the South!

OK! OK! OK! I've exposed my deepest prejudice. I really don't like Southern culture, politics, revisionist history, or traditions. I like the food, but wouldn't miss it if I was suddenly denied access. The Southerners I've met in the North are all very smart, talented, dynamic people (which is why they left the South, I assume); so, I don't hate Southerners, per se.

But I digress. This is actually supposed to be a posting about Jamie and Gladys Scott. Two women in their thirties who have served 16 years of a life sentence for armed robbery.

There have been numerous requests for clemency and pardons and the Governor has always kept the door open for discussion. Recently, officials in the Mississippi Department of Corrections have said they believe the sisters are no threat to society. They have been rehabilitated.

On top of that, and likely the most compelling issue is that Jamie is suffering from kidney disease. We are currently required by law to care for our prisoners' health, and until that rule is changed (which it probably will be) we need to spend money caring for her. Even low-end dialysis is really, really expensive. So, by releasing her, the prison system and the State can move Jamie off the State roles and onto the federal roles by releasing her from prison and allowing her to wind-up on Medicaid.

This financial detail does not take away from the fact that these women appear to be American success stories. They committed a crime, were tried and sentenced, have been rehabilitated, are no longer a threat to society, and will be released.

I hope this continues to be a success story and not a Willie Horton sequel.

Sister's kidney donation condition of Miss. parole

1 comment:

Al Falafal said...

Totally agree with your attitude about the South. Being poor white trash from Kentucky, myself, I can't imagine still living in the state now represented in the Senate by Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul! Not to mention the state's biggest tourist attractions: Six Flags Over Creationville and Ark Encounters of the Third Most Stupid Kind.