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A racist travesty of justice

The tragic case of the Scott sisters

Published Apr 29, 2010 8:21 PM

Anyone who still believes that the U.S. is the most democratic and just country in the world has only to examine the shocking case of the Scott sisters to be disabused of that erroneous notion. While this case is becoming more and more well-known by word of mouth, mainly on the Internet, the 16-year-old case has never received the national and international media attention that it so richly deserves. The facts of the case will explain the reason why.

Gladys Scott

Who are the Scott sisters?

Jamie and Gladys Scott are African-American sisters who lived in the small town of Forest, Miss., when they were arrested on Dec. 24, 1993, on a charge of armed robbery of two Black men. The amount involved in the robbery was $11 and nobody was injured. In October 1994, both sisters were found guilty and received double-life sentences. They are not eligible for parole until they spend at least 20 years in prison.

Their sentence is very reminiscent of the life sentence, without the possibility of parole, given to the martyred Black Panther and Soledad Brothers prisoner, George Jackson, in the early 1960s. Jackson was convicted of stealing $70.

Jamie Scott

Three teenagers, who eventually admitted that they had committed the robbery, recanted the false testimony they gave during the Scott sisters’ trial. These teenagers stated before the judge and jury that they were forced by local authorities to implicate the sisters, with the promise of a lenient sentence. Even the robbery victims said that the sisters had nothing to do with the robbery. Neither Jamie nor Gladys had a prior record before this outrageous conviction and life sentence.

At the time of their arrest, conviction and sentencing, Gladys was 19 years old and pregnant with her second child; Jamie was a 22-year-old with three young children. Their children are being raised by Jamie and Gladys’ mother, Elaine Rasco. Despite having to move to Florida due to years of emotional stress, Ms. Rasco remains active in fighting for her daughters’ freedom.

The state and federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have refused to hear the Scotts’ appeals. Since being in prison, Jamie has developed almost complete kidney failure due to poor diet and inhumane prison medical care. She is receiving irregular dialysis treatments and has gone into shock numerous times. If it were not for the pressure and local attention that community, legal and political activists have put on the prison authorities, Jamie Scott could have easily died.

How to get involved

There is a growing grassroots movement to broaden awareness around the Scott sisters’ case, including a letter-writing campaign demanding that Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder release them. The campaign also includes getting petitions signed and getting press releases sent to local, state and national press on the case.

The Scott sisters’ case has put another human face on the constant racist repression that is woven within the very fabric of U.S. capitalist society. In an Aug. 19 article, Jamie Scott wrote: “The injustices that have occurred are patterns within this county and their police departments. This type of injustice and exploitation has been done to many African Americans who have lived in this county for many years. They have been very successful in destroying many lives.”

Jamie continued: “This is a time we show Americans what really occurs in most small towns in the state of Mississippi. We are convinced that once this chain of events is exposed and unraveled, the events that occurred, the lives that have been destroyed, the pain and suffering the citizens of Scott County have endured; everyone will be utterly amazed, astonished and compelled to assist us in our plight for freedom.”

Go to freethescottsisters.blogspot.com to read Jamie’s entire article, find out more information about the case and get involved.