Sisters Gladys and Jamie Scott were released from prison in Mississippi this morning under the condition that Gladys would donate a kidney to Jamie. Jamie Scott is in level five renal failure and requires dialysis three times a week, costing the state $190K each year.
The sisters had served 16 years of a life sentence for armed robbery and were scheduled to be eligible for parole in 2014. Mississippi governor Haley Barbour suspended their sentences after the Department of Corrections deemed the sisters to no longer be a threat to society.
It's a humanitarian move that will also save the state money, but what I find curious is that Gladys Scott hasn't yet been tested to confirm that her kidney will be a match for her sister.
The sisters' lawyer pleaded for their release due to the serious nature of Jamie Scott's illness and her desperate need for a donor organ. I expect the state approved the release not so much out of concern for Scott's welfare as the Corrections Department's budget, but I would have thought that they'd cover their bases by ensuring Gladys's kidney was a match before releasing the women.
The nature of their specific crime seems to be relatively minor in the scheme of what constitutes armed robbery: They purposely brought the victims into contact with the perpetrators, who "hit them with a shotgun and took their wallets." Sixteen years is a long time, especially since the Scott sisters were unarmed accomplices, but given that the GOP prides itself on being tough on crime, it's surprising that a Republican governor would release any prisoner on such terms.
What's also interesting to me is that the sisters are headed to their mother's house in Florida, ostensibly for the purpose of finding medical care for Jamie and a surgeon to perform the transplant. Being in prison for 16 years, it's unlikely that the sisters have health care coverage, so I expect the expenses will be borne by Medicaid. Did Mississippi snooker Florida into accepting its convicted felons and their medical costs? Nicely played, Governor Barbour!
But for Jamie Scott's sake, I hope that her sister's kidney is a match.