JACKSON, Mississippi (AP) — Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has suspended the life sentences of two sisters convicted in 1994 for their roles in an armed robbery, but one sister’s release is contingent on her giving a kidney to the other.
Gladys and Jamie Scott were convicted of leading two men into an ambush in central Mississippi in 1993. The men were robbed of $11 by three teenagers who hit both men in the head with a shotgun and took their wallets, court records said.
The Scott sisters are eligible for parole in 2014, but 38-year-old Jamie Scott “requires regular dialysis, and her sister has offered to donate one of her kidneys to her,” Barbour said.
Barbour said in a news release that 36-year-old Gladys Scott’s release is conditioned on her donating one of her kidneys to her sister.
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Dan Turner, Barbour’s spokesman, told The Associated Press that Jamie Scott was released because she needs the transplant. He said Gladys Scott will be released if she agrees to donate her kidney because of the significant risk and recovery time.
“She wanted to do it,” Turner said. “That wasn’t something we introduced.”
Barbour is a Republican in his second term who has been mentioned as a possible presidential contender in 2012.
He said the Mississippi Parole Board reviewed the case at his request and agreed with the indefinite suspension of their sentences, which is different from a pardon or commutation because it comes with conditions.
An “indefinite suspension of sentence” can be reversed if the conditions are not followed, but those requirements are usually things like meeting with a parole officer.
The Scott sisters have received significant public support from advocacy groups, including the NAACP, which called for their release. Hundreds of people marched through downtown Jackson from the state capital to the governor’s mansion in September, chanting in unison that the women should be freed.
Still, their release won’t be immediate.
Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps said late Wednesday that he had not received the order. He also said the women want to live with relatives in Florida, which requires approval from officials in that state.
In general, that process takes 45 days.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.