JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Nationwide response is pouring into Mississippi following the Governor Haley Barbour's decision to pardon two sisters imprisoned for nearly 16 years. They were charged with armed robbery in 1994 and sentenced to double life sentences for the crime. Sentences that many called outrageous and excessive.
There is an unusual twist to the story. 36-year-old Gladys Scott's release is contingent on her giving a kidney to Jamie, her 38-year-old sister, who requires daily dialysis.
Following a meeting with the governor Thursday morning, National NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous thanked Barbour for freeing the women. Jealous called the suspension of the sentences "a shining example" of the way a governor should use the power of clemency.
"I'm here to say thank you to the people of the state, to the Governor of the state. When you are right you are right Governor Barbour. And you were very right today."
The sisters were convicted in 1994 of leading two men into an ambush in central Mississippi the year before. Teenagers hit each man in the head with a shotgun and took their wallets - making off with only $11, court records said. Civil rights advocates have for years called for the sisters' release, saying the sentences were excessive.
Jackson attorney and city councilman Chokwe Lumumba said Thursday, "It was bad when they got sentenced to two life sentences in prison for something that most people don't even do a day in prison for." Those demands gained traction when Barbour asked the Mississippi Parole Board to take another look at the case.
The Scott sisters hope to go to Florida and live with their mother and children. Their mother, Evelyn Rasco of Pensacola, Florida never gave up on her daughters.
"A mothers to fight for her children is what you have to do. You have to just fight for your children you just can't stop. My supporters were non-stop."
The timeline for all the paperwork to be approved and their release from prison is unclear.
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