CHICAGO — A Mississippi woman must donate her kidney to her sister as a condition for their early release from jail after serving 16 years for an armed robbery that netted 11 dollars.
Jaime and Gladys Scott became symbols of the heavy-handed sentences handed to African Americans and the influential civil rights group NAACP engaged in a long-standing campaign to secure their release.
The two sisters – who insist they were wrongfully convicted – were handed two life sentences for acting as accomplices and were not eligible for parole until 2014.
The teenagers who carried out the 1993 robbery served only two years in jail.
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour suspended the sisters’ sentences late Wednesday ahead of a meeting with the president of the NAACP.
“Their incarceration is no longer necessary for public safety or rehabilitation, and Jamie Scott’s medical condition creates a substantial cost to the state of Mississippi,” Barbour said in a statement.
“Gladys Scott’s release is conditioned on her donating one of her kidneys to her sister, a procedure which should be scheduled with urgency.”
Glady Scott had already offered to donate the kidney to her sister Jaime, who requires regular dialysis.
The NAACP on Thursday hailed Barbour’s for making a “righteous – and courageous – decision” in a case which was “an outrage emblematic of the biases systemic in our criminal justice system.”