Gladys and Jamie Scott, two women who were arrested, convicted and condemned to serve “life” sentences in the State of Mississippi for their role in a 1993 armed robbery, were released from prison on January 7, 2010, after 16 years behind bars.
Their sentences were suspended under the condition that one of the sisters donates a kidney to the other.
The NAACP was proud of their release; the family and friends of the Scott sisters were relieved and ecstatic for their return home.
Sadly, the act of their release does nothing to resolve the age-old problem we face in this country today involving our consistent inability to insure the fair and impartial administration of justice.
For example, Mr. Cornelius Dupree Jr., 51, was recently released from prison (and his conviction overturned as a result of DNA tests) in Texas after serving 30 years for a crime he did not commit.
Since his release, the State of Texas has confirmed that it has released 41 inmates from prison dating back to 2001 for crimes they did not commit.
The Scott sisters (on the other hand) were released as the result of a “deal.” It was costing the State of Mississippi over $200,000.00 a year to keep Jamie Scott incarcerated because of her dialysis treatments.
Given the sum of money being spent, it was much easier for the State of Mississippi to release the women under the “transplant deal” and relieve itself of the expenditure than to keep them incarcerated for life and continue paying close to $250,000.00 a year to house two inmates.
In short, the Scott sisters were released because of costs, not because it was the right thing to do to make amends for the dispensation of an unjust sentence. How could anyone be pleased with the results of this release when the process that led to the two women receiving the life sentences has not been changed?
If money had not been an issue for the State of Mississippi, the Scott sisters would still be in prison serving an unjust sentence.
The images of the Scott sisters and Mr. Dupree being released from prison because of poor justice administration is seen entirely too often in the media, and these images unfortunately continue to plague our existence because we persistently do nothing to resolve the issues that afflict our broken justice system.
The U.S. Constitution was written to establish justice, tranquility, defense, safety and liberty for the citizens of our nation.
The first task on the list in the U.S. Constitution was for us to establish justice. To date, we clearly have not established justice as it was intended by our founding fathers, so we should not be surprised that our efforts to establish domestic tranquility, common defense, welfare and liberty have been so difficult to fulfill.
We could complete these tasks much easier if we worked harder (and worked together) to satisfy the first task – that being to establish justice.
We should not leave our children and grandchildren with the task of establishing fair and impartial justice – a task that should have been completed over 200 years ago.
It is our generation (today) that needs to accept the responsibility and exercise the necessary courage to initiate and implement the proper system reforms so that we can all enjoy the benefits of living in a society where sentencing is fair, the innocent remain free, and truth prevails.