ONTD Political

Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi has to decide whether to show mercy to two sisters, Jamie and Gladys Scott, who are each serving double consecutive life sentences in state prison for a robbery in which no one was injured and only $11 was taken.

This should be an easy call for a law-and-order governor who has, nevertheless, displayed a willingness to set free individuals convicted of far more serious crimes. Mr. Barbour has already pardoned four killers and suspended the life sentence of a fifth.

The Scott sisters have been in prison for 16 years. Jamie, now 38, is seriously ill. Both of her kidneys have failed. Keeping the two of them locked up any longer is unconscionable, grotesquely inhumane.

The sisters were accused of luring two men to a spot outside the rural town of Forest, Miss., in 1993, where the men were robbed by three teenagers, one of whom had a shotgun. The Scott sisters knew the teens. The evidence of the sisters’ involvement has always been ambiguous, at best. The teenagers pleaded guilty to the crime, served two years in prison and were released. All were obliged by the authorities, as part of their plea deals, to implicate the sisters.

No explanation has ever emerged as to why Jamie and Gladys Scott were treated so severely.

In contrast, Governor Barbour has been quite willing to hand get-out-of-jail-free cards to men who unquestionably committed shockingly brutal crimes. The Jackson Free Press, an alternative weekly, and Slate Magazine have catalogued these interventions by Mr. Barbour. Some Mississippi observers have characterized the governor’s moves as acts of mercy; others have called them dangerous abuses of executive power.

The Mississippi Department of Corrections confirmed Governor Barbour’s role in the five cases, noting that the specific orders were signed July 16, 2008:

• Bobby Hays Clark was pardoned by the governor. He was serving a long sentence for manslaughter and aggravated assault, having shot and killed a former girlfriend and badly beaten her boyfriend.

• Michael David Graham had his life sentence for murder suspended by Governor Barbour. Graham had stalked his ex-wife, Adrienne Klasky, for years before shooting her to death as she waited for a traffic light in downtown Pascagoula.

• Clarence Jones was pardoned by the governor. He had murdered his former girlfriend in 1992, stabbing her 22 times. He had already had his life sentence suspended by a previous governor, Ronnie Musgrove.

• Paul Joseph Warnock was pardoned by Governor Barbour. He was serving life for the murder of his girlfriend in 1989. According to Slate, Warnock shot his girlfriend in the back of the head while she was sleeping.

• William James Kimble was pardoned by Governor Barbour. He was serving life for the murder and robbery of an elderly man in 1991.

Radley Balko, in an article for Slate, noted that none of the five men were given relief because of concerns that they had been unfairly treated by the criminal justice system. There were no questions about their guilt or the fairness of the proceedings against them. But they did have one thing in common. All, as Mr. Balko pointed out, had been enrolled in a special prison program “that had them doing odd jobs around the Mississippi governor’s mansion.”

The idea that those men could be freed from prison and allowed to pursue whatever kind of lives they might wish while the Scott sisters are kept locked up, presumably for the rest of their lives, is beyond disturbing.

Supporters of the Scott sisters, including their attorney, Chokwe Lumumba, and Ben Jealous of the N.A.A.C.P., have asked Governor Barbour to intervene, to use his executive power to free the women from prison.

A spokeswoman for the governor told me he has referred the matter to the state’s parole board. Under Mississippi law, the governor does not have to follow the recommendation of the board. He is free to act on his own. With Jamie Scott seriously ill (her sister and others have offered to donate a kidney for a transplant), the governor should move with dispatch.

The women’s mother, Evelyn Rasco, told The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss.: “I wish they would just hurry up and let them out. I hope that is where it is leading to. That would be the only justified thing to do.”

An affidavit submitted to the governor on behalf of the Scott sisters says: “Jamie and Gladys Scott respectfully pray that they each be granted a pardon or clemency of their sentences on the grounds that their sentences were too severe and they have been incarcerated for too long. If not released, Jamie Scott will probably die in prison.”

As they are both serving double life sentences, a refusal by the governor to intervene will most likely mean that both will die in prison.

source

Mods, can we get a prisons/prison system tag up in this joint?
poetic_pixie_13 7th-Nov-2010 12:49 am (UTC)
Jamie and Gladys Scott, who are each serving double consecutive life sentences in state prison for a robbery in which no one was injured and only $11 was taken.

The Scott sisters have been in prison for 16 years. Jamie, now 38, is seriously ill. Both of her kidneys have failed. Keeping the two of them locked up any longer is unconscionable, grotesquely inhumane.

The sisters were accused of luring two men to a spot outside the rural town of Forest, Miss., in 1993, where the men were robbed by three teenagers, one of whom had a shotgun. The Scott sisters knew the teens. The evidence of the sisters’ involvement has always been ambiguous, at best. The teenagers pleaded guilty to the crime, served two years in prison and were released. All were obliged by the authorities, as part of their plea deals, to implicate the sisters.


I'm sorry, but, what? I can't.
theburningdoll 7th-Nov-2010 12:56 am (UTC)
I feel like we're missing some vital detail here. Am I misreading the article?
poetic_pixie_13 7th-Nov-2010 12:57 am (UTC)
They're both black women. I'm sure that had nothing to do with it. ><
theburningdoll 7th-Nov-2010 01:02 am (UTC)
Ahhh. Well, then.

romp 7th-Nov-2010 01:04 am (UTC)
I could tell that one paragraph in.

All I can think to do is demand everyone know that a disproportionate number of POC are executed, jailed, etc. This is done in our name and we benefit from the jobs "saved" and work provided by the prison industry. At the least, we should all know and admit this.
lemorttoussaint 7th-Nov-2010 01:04 am (UTC)
You know, as soon as I read this and saw that "no explanation" for their treatment has been offered, I knew it had to be racially motivated. The justice system is just fucked.
world_dancer 8th-Nov-2010 02:40 pm (UTC)
They're also not exes who stalked and murdered their girlfriends. Because that's what 4 out of 5 of the pardoned cons did.
squid_ink 7th-Nov-2010 01:04 am (UTC)
they 'didn't sound like they were sorry' for the crime (mainly because they're saying they're innocent)

so no you're not misreading the article, sadly.



I remember reading this Herbert column when it first ran, it is horrific

and there are probably DOZENS of these sorts of miscarriages in the country, if not hundreds :(
julieannie 7th-Nov-2010 01:06 am (UTC)
There are more details but it leads you to believe even worse things about the prosecution, the defense lawyer, the judge and the two actual robbers+their driver accomplice.
drfardook 7th-Nov-2010 02:50 am (UTC)
Its how plea bargaining works. Because the teens could turn evidence they could work with the DA to get their sentences reduced. Because the sisters didn't necessarily have evidence or they refused to cooperate they ended up holding the atomic avocado of DA displeasure when it came time to prosecute.

As you can imagine this also creates a huge motivation to lie. As long as you're willing to finger someone else, you'll still get time but you'll get far less time for being "cooperative".
wolfinthenight 7th-Nov-2010 01:00 am (UTC)
...I'm really disturbed by how four out of the five men with pardons and a suspended sentence were convicted of murdering women who were girlfriends and wives.

Also, wtf to: All, as Mr. Balko pointed out, had been enrolled in a special prison program “that had them doing odd jobs around the Mississippi governor’s mansion.”

What is this supposed to mean? That they had an opportunity to talk to the governor face to face? o_O
hourglasscreate 7th-Nov-2010 01:18 am (UTC)
...I'm really disturbed by how four out of the five men with pardons and a suspended sentence were convicted of murdering women who were girlfriends and wives.

This so much. Obviously, it's less important for a man to murder his ex than it is for a couple of black women to maybe have lured a couple of (white?) men to an $11 robbery. Makes me think the governor doesn't have a high regard for women.
simply_blah 7th-Nov-2010 01:02 am (UTC)
Double life-sentences? That seems extremely harsh even if there was a plea deal to implicate them. =\
anjak_j 7th-Nov-2010 01:08 am (UTC)
It is disgusting that men who have committed such heinous crimes as those released should be able to get on with their lives having killed, while two women remain incarcerated with double life sentences for a crime where the evidence against them is basically that they knew the assailants, and that those assailants tagged them in a plea bargain.

Given the source of the only evidence against these women, they shouldn't have spent a day in prison, let alone the sixteen years they've served. Even if they aren't pardoned, they should be let out immediately, on the grounds that Jamie Scott is seriously ill. Not to mention the sentences are disproportionate to the crime supposedly committed. No-one was killed. It was eleven fucking dollars. And the evidence against them is dubious on a good day.

And I have to say, I'm left wondering why that list of those whose cases were subject to intervention by Governor Barbour does not feature the case of a female prisoner...
omgangiepants 7th-Nov-2010 01:10 am (UTC)
Two black women in Mississippi. It makes perfect sense, unfortunately.
pragmatic_chimp 7th-Nov-2010 01:10 am (UTC)
Yeah, so I guess I don't have to google pictures of these poor women to know that they're Black, do I?
hourglasscreate 7th-Nov-2010 01:20 am (UTC)
I suspected it in the first paragraph. Knew it when they mentioned NAACP.
schmanda 7th-Nov-2010 04:02 pm (UTC)
Same.

Jesus.
holdyourdevil 7th-Nov-2010 08:15 pm (UTC)
Same.
fenris_lorsrai 7th-Nov-2010 01:30 am (UTC)
Jamie, now 38, is seriously ill. Both of her kidneys have failed. Keeping the two of them locked up any longer is unconscionable, grotesquely inhumane.

sadly, if she IS that ill, incarceration may be the lesser of two evils. What are the odds of someone who's been in jail for sixteen years and has double kidney failure being able to get a job with health insurance? Or enough government assistance to find somewhere to live and receive enough care to not die shortly after release?

This is a shitty, shitty situation, but at this point, a pardon may be a death sentence. so long as she's in jail, she'll have housing, food, and medical care. If pardoned... pray she's got family that will take her and can afford treatment for double kidney failure...
apocalypsos 7th-Nov-2010 02:27 am (UTC)
This entire completely true point about this whole situation is the most disgusting thing about the health care system in this country, honest to God.

(Not that I don't think prisoners deserve health care. They do. So does everyone else. Every time I hear people railing against universal health care because it's unconstitutional, all I can think about is how the only people the Constitution DOES explicitly provide universal health care for are people in prison.)
rayiroth 7th-Nov-2010 05:14 am (UTC)
May I ask how is universal health care unconstitutional?
apocalypsos 7th-Nov-2010 05:19 am (UTC)
Beats me. I certainly don't think so, God knows, but as far as I can tell from the people who are against it, since the words "Every citizen gets free health care" aren't explicitly in the Constitution, they consider it unconstitutional.
cpip 8th-Nov-2010 04:08 am (UTC)
The argument against it runs that the Constitution does not grant the federal government the power to establish a national health care system in any explicit manner; since it doesn't, then it should not be allowed to do so barring a constitutional amendment, rather than merely Federal law.

I have sympathy with this view only so far as the idea that, hey, let's enshrine the idea of national single-payer in the Constitution. Make it a supreme Federal obligation.
ladygoddess 7th-Nov-2010 06:18 pm (UTC)
This reminds me of that one guy that ran down two families in a McDonalds' parking lot which killed a little girl all because he wanted health care that he knew he'd get in prison.

The only source I could find in a quick search: http://www.covnews.com/archives/7826/
adequategirl 7th-Nov-2010 01:42 am (UTC)
Paul Joseph Warnock was pardoned by Governor Barbour. He was serving life for the murder of his girlfriend in 1989. According to Slate, Warnock shot his girlfriend in the back of the head while she was sleeping.

Incidentally, some people have the nerve to call themselves Men's Rights Activists.

angelofdeath275 7th-Nov-2010 02:13 am (UTC)
So the women are black, and I bet the man pardoned are white.
danceprincess20 7th-Nov-2010 02:17 am (UTC)
I actually believe (from what I've heard in the NPR story I posted below) that they were black as well.

The reporter who discussed the case said this:
"Yeah, the two women are African-American, in fact everyone involved in the case is African-American, the victims - the other co-conspirators are African-American."

danceprincess20 7th-Nov-2010 08:46 pm (UTC)
Ah, okay, that makes sense, I don't know anything specific about that. I read it fast and was thinking of the men who got very short sentences in this case.
danceprincess20 7th-Nov-2010 02:17 am (UTC)
Obviously though, the fact that the men were black doesn't make this any better.
wolfinthenight 7th-Nov-2010 03:10 am (UTC)
If angelofdeath275 was talking about the men pardoned not involved in the Scotts case, then at least one male, Michael David Graham, is white (I found his picture, but wasn't able to find the others). But, if this link is reliable, it implies that most of the men pardoned by Haley Barbour were white as well.
danceprincess20 7th-Nov-2010 08:47 pm (UTC)
Ah, okay, that makes sense, I don't know anything specific about that. I read it fast and was thinking of the men who got very short sentences in this case.
danceprincess20 7th-Nov-2010 02:15 am (UTC)
Michele Martin has done a few stories recently about this. Here is the first one I heard but I know I've heard her talk about it more than once.

This doesn't have a ton more info but does have some:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130567624
windy_lea 7th-Nov-2010 03:31 am (UTC)
I find it really disturbing that these two women are serving double life sentences for supposedly luring men into an $11 robbery (on the word of the actual robbers, whose crimes I guess aren't as serious?!) while nearly all the men this guy's pardoned seem to have been involved in murdering wives/girlfriends. It reeks of "they got what was comin' to them". I mean, shit, why did the guy who stabbed his victim 22 fucking times warrant any sort of pardon at all??
theburningdoll 7th-Nov-2010 03:46 am (UTC)
it's so fucked up, isn't it? how does this even HAPPEN? are we not human beings?
windy_lea 7th-Nov-2010 04:55 am (UTC)
I don't know, I really don't. There are days when I seriously doubt the humanity of us human beings...
hourglasscreate 7th-Nov-2010 04:41 pm (UTC)
Of course not. Didn't you know that?

/irony
ladypolitik 7th-Nov-2010 04:08 am (UTC)
*sigh*
odetomutilation 7th-Nov-2010 04:41 am (UTC)
I could go out right now and rape the first child I saw and get less time than that.

Glad to know we have our priorities in order.

This country's justice system sickens me...and yet, it's better than some other ones.
24_24_1_1526 7th-Nov-2010 05:57 am (UTC)
aww yeah, my home state, embarrassing the fuck out the south yet again. damn you barbour! i have a passionate hate for this man. for him to DIAF wouldn't cause me to bat a lash. at least for once he is doing the right thing.
omgangiepants 7th-Nov-2010 06:33 am (UTC)
Not really.
wrestlingdog 7th-Nov-2010 07:10 am (UTC)
Not yet he hasn't.
koalafrog 7th-Nov-2010 01:20 pm (UTC)
Oh, how awesome! Wife killers walk free, but 2 ~scurry~ black women who may or may not have been involved in an $11 robbery won't be able to terrorize the public ever again!
perfectisafault 7th-Nov-2010 02:54 pm (UTC)
fuck Haley Barbour and his fake-ass southern accent
libre_m 8th-Nov-2010 03:16 am (UTC)
Personally, I'm not always comfortable with the idea of pardons. I can't help but feel that they undermine the justice system and the judges themselves. When you're sentenced to life in prison, it shouldn't be 'OR until someone else decides that you've learned your lesson, or that the gory details of your crime have faded away a little, or that you're sick and shouldn't have to die in prison' (Susan Atkins, appealing (again) for parole last year, shortly before her death - I couldn't believe she actually asked for 'mercy' when *everyone* knows what she said to Sharon Tate, when she made a similar request for her and her child). The men mentioned in the article, IMHO, should never have been let out early, if only because they all seemed to target particularly vulnerable members of society.

But this doesn't seem like a request for a pardon as much as it does a request that a huge mistake be corrected. Not only did it seem dubious that they were imprisoned in the first place, but the sentences seem...a touch harsh, to say the least.
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