"It's torture," she sobs over the phone from her Pensacola, Florida home. "It tortures me on a daily basis."
The nightmare began on Christmas Eve in 1993 when Rasco's two daughters, Jamie and Gladys Scott, left a mini-mart near their home in Scott County, Mississippi. Their car broke down, and they hitched a ride from two young men, one of whom they knew. But later that evening, the men were robbed at gunpoint by three teenagers in another car. The robbers got away with an estimated $11 and no one was hurt, but police accused the Scott sisters of setting the victims up.
Although the young women denied having any involvement and had no criminal record, a jury found them guilty of armed robbery. On October 13, 1994, a judge ordered them to each serve double-life sentences in the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility, where they remain today.
"It is about race," says Chokwe Lumumba, a political activist and attorney who's now representing the Scotts. "I think it would be unimaginable that two white women would be in this situation."
Lumumba is now in the process of filing a request to Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, asking for clemency for the Scotts, who are not eligible for parole until 2014. He's also working to appeal the conviction, which was first denied in 1996. He says his hope is to find the two co-defendants in the case who initially testified against the Scott sisters under police pressure (and served 10 months through a plea bargain), but later recanted their statements.
"That could give life to another post conviction motion... that would be significant," says Lumumba.
But time is of the essence.
Jamie, 38, suffers from kidney failure, and according to Rasco, will likely die if she doesn't receive a kidney transplant. She says Gladys, 34, even offered to donate her own kidney, but the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) will not allow the procedure. It also denied requests from Rasco and other family members to grant Jamie a medical release, stating an inmate must be classified as terminal or totally disabled.
My heart breaks for these women, their children and their families. Yet, I remain hopeful that we can do something. My only question is WHY haven't we done something yet?
Bloggers were instrumental in creating and pushing the Jena Six (or Jena 6) movement which culminated in some modicum of fairness for the six teens who were going to be royally hosed for some old bullshit.
I know that we can make that kind of change happen, but the response in regards to these two sisters has been "cool." Is it because they are women? I hate to say it, but I think so.
Mind you, I don't want to take on the tone of "Us vs. Them" as it relates to black men and black women, but I am pointing out that once again, black women are shown to be the least protected, least cared about group in this country (and the world in general). Maybe it's age old stereotypes about us that have helped to doom the Scott Sisters, what with people clutching to those as truth and eventually believing this two women were up to no good.
People are asking to "Free Weezy" but there's little fanfare from us as a black community to "Free the Scott Sisters" and that is being watched. We are capable of achieving great things, and achieving fairness. It may take more work, but we're good for it. We can make a difference in 2010 that could end such a great offense to justice. Whoever sentenced these two women launched a personal attack on black women, and fully intended for them to die or waste away in prison; break them in prison.
I wasn't there, and I don't know what happened. However, I am 100% sure that a robbery of $11 by these sisters--this is hypothetically speaking--did not and does NOT warrant this excessive, and obscene sentence, even if they did do it.
Write to your representatives, congressmen, and write everyone you think could be of assistance and bend their ear to look into these sisters. Let's see if we can build up a big enough movement and web presence to let Mississippi know that we are watching and we do care about these women.
For more information on how to help the Scott Sisters, please check out FreeTheScottSisters.Blogspot.com.
This Women's History month, make it a priority to see how you can help the Scott Sisters, especially when a serious health problem like kidney failure is at play.