Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour on Dec. 29 suspended the life sentences of two sisters jailed for an armed robbery that netted just $11—but the release of one sister will require her to donate a kidney to the other.“To date, the sisters have served 16 years of their sentences and are eligible for parole in 2014. Jamie Scott requires regular dialysis, and her sister has offered to donate one of her kidneys to her,” Barbour said in a prepared statement, according to The Hattiesburg American. “The Mississippi Department of Corrections believes the sisters no longer pose a threat to society. 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.”
According to The American, in 1993 the sisters lured two men down a road where they were robbed by three teens. The Scott sisters were convicted of robbery with a deadly weapon in the incident and each received reportedly unusual double life prison sentences. The teenagers who allegedly carried out the robbery only served two years in prison.
Barbour’s statement said that he asked the Mississippi Parole Board to review the Scott’s case, and that they supported his decision to suspend their sentences.
According to the Associated Press, the sisters have received support from national groups including the NAACP. A march for them earlier this year drew hundreds of people.
NAACP President Ben Jealous thanked both Barbour and NAACP supporters who protested and petitioned for the release of Gladys and Jamie Scott.
“The moment I landed in Jackson, Mississippi, Governor Barbour called to tell me about the suspension,” Jealous said in a statement. “And as I prepare to meet with him tomorrow, along with Derrick Johnson, President of the Mississippi State Conference of the NAACP, I want to be clear about one thing: This vindication is because of you [supporters], because you raised your voice and kept the faith.”
Jealous asked supporters to now issue welcome home statements for their pair. He said he wants to “celebrate this victory for Gladys and Jamie” and said the sisters would love to hear from the public.
A release date for the sisters has not been decided, and will be set by the Mississippi Department of Corrections, according to Jackson, Miss. NBC affiliate WLBT.