By Freedom Riders to Free the Scott Sisters
Oct. 26, 2010
As Freedom Riders from the summer of '61 prepared for a 50th reunion
visit to the "New Mississippi" with a red carpet welcome by governor
Haley Barbour, some were appalled to discover last week that a piece
of the "Old Mississippi" still exists.
Set to visit Parchman prison and see what it has become, they learned
of two women, the Scott sisters, who have been incarcerated there for
almost 20 years, each serving two life terms for the theft of $11.
The victims of the crime and the perpetrators have all sworn that the
women were not involved.
Why the draconian sentences? There is speculation that the sisters'
father had declined to pay off the sheriff.
Scott County, Mississippi, is a dry county. According to court
records, the sheriff secretly allowed night clubs to serve drinks
privately for a fee - $100 a week. The sisters' mother, Evelyn Rasko,
says that when Jamie and Gladys Scott's father arrived with his
family from Chicago in the early 90's and bought his nephew's night
club, he declined to pay the fee.
"I will get you one way or the other, even if it is through your
daughters!" deputy Marvin Williams, now deceased, is reported to have
said. And it would appear that he did. A trio of teens was arrested
for a minor robbery. By coercing testimony from a 14-year old,
telling him, according to the victim, that he would be sent to
Parchman and he would "be made out of women" - raped - if he did not
implicate the Scott sisters, deputy Marvin Williams appears to have
built a phony case. The sisters were arrested, told by their
attorneys not to speak during the trial, and were sent directly to
Parchman, where they still sit today, almost 20 years later. One of
them is dying.
Inadequate treatment for diabetes can cause both kidneys to fail.
Jamie Scott's kidneys have both failed. She is going to die soon if
she doesn't get proper treatment. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour
has referred the whole matter to his Parole Board. But he can release
the sisters tomorrow, he has that power.
On behalf of the sisters, the Freedom Riders to Free the Scott
Sisters committee has just released the following request to Governor Barbour:
"As we plan to celebrate our 50th Freedom Rider reunion next May in
Jackson, we respectfully ask you to commute the Scott Sisters'
sentence or pardon them well before then. We hope to see that,
because of your justice and compassion, these two women are no longer
imprisoned in the very place where we did time.
In the words of the Prophet, Isaiah 42:7, we call upon you, [t]o
bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, them that sit in darkness
out of the prison house."
Whether Jamie Scott dies in Parchman for a trumped-up offense depends
now on Governor Haley Barbour's signature.
Philip M. Posner
Freedom Riders to Free the Scott Sisters
268 Bush Street, Suite 3602
San Francisco, CA 94104
The full text is online at http://www.frwg-ss.blogspot.com.