the moving truck from South Carolina to Chicago,
Illinois in July of 2005, many things ran across
my mind as I took the solo trip. I pondered receiving the Master
of Jurisprudence degree from Loyola University School of Law and
later a career as a governmental regulatory compliance manager.
It never dawned on me that I would receive a brutal education in
social justice; an education that would prove to be more valuable
than sheepskin from any institution. This
would become an education that re-directed every thought flowing
as I drove that big truck from South Carolina. I left Chicago with the Master of Jurisprudence and absolutely no desire to
follow my original dreams.
secured a position as a Community Services Consultant with Rainbow/PUSH
Coalition while completing my studies. I will never forget the frigid,
Chicago morning when I opened a letter from Mrs.
Evelyn Rasco, a mother and widow. She told the story of her daughters,
and said she had written Rainbow/PUSH for 11 years, without a response.
She redirected her strategy this time and wrote Congressman Jackson
in a plea to get the letter to his father’s (Rev. Jackson) office.
The letter was hand delivered. I called Mrs. Rasco and promised
to get back in touch. Her approach is consistently that of a persistent
mother – determined to secure help for her two daughters, who are
serving double life terms each, in the state of Mississippi,
for armed robbery.
Allegedly, 9, 10, or 11 dollars was stolen. No one was injured, murdered or taken to the hospital. Though often discouraged, I’ve found out, through
my interactions with Mrs. Rasco, that she is rich in perseverance
and her belief in God.
following months would comprise of in-depth research efforts, on
my part, on behalf of the Scott sisters. After reading the transcripts,
as well as other documents, many times, I spoke with various legal
experts – one of whom passed away before completely assisting with
the case. Subsequently, I was convinced that a grave injustice had
been wrought from the judicial bench. This injustice has proven
to be the misrepresentation of poor Black women seeking justice
in Mississippi’s legal system. Justice was denied.
I left Chicago with a commitment
to somehow free Jamie and Gladys Scott.
parents of Jamie and Gladys Scott had felt that life for the family
would be better in Mississippi than in Chicago. They had left the Chicago South Side and moved to Mississippi.
Instead of finding a more peaceful, safe environment, they found
a racist town where the white man’s spoken word is the law and justice
for poor Black people, absent.
December 24, 1993, Scott County Sheriff’s Department arrested the
sisters for armed robbery. In October of 1994, Jamie and Gladys
Scott were sentenced to double life terms in prison. That’s double
sentences each! Neither sister had prior convictions. Three
young Black men confessed to the robbery, but implicated Jamie and
Gladys in the crime. The three young men, all related and ranging
from ages 14 to 18, confessed to committing the crime. Coercions,
threats and promises later led these men to turn state’s evidence
on the Scott Sisters. The 14-year-old testified that he signed a
written statement without an attorney present. He was told that
he would be sent up to Parchman Farm – the notorious Mississippi Penitentiary/Plantation
– if he did not cooperate. In addition, he was told that he would
be “made out of a woman” (raped by men) at Parchman. The 14-year-old
witness had spent 10 months in jail and was, at this point, ready
to get out. His confession was a condition of entering a plea agreement
for strong-armed robbery, which does not carry a life sentence.
The 14-year-old never read the statement. He only signed
1998, one of the Patrick Men wrote an affidavit telling the truth
– that Jamie and Gladys were not involved. The court never heard
the affidavit. There are presently three affidavits which state
that Gladys and Jamie had nothing to do with this robbery.
to the Request for Commutation of Sentence and/or Pardon prepared
by attorney Chokwe Lumumba, the Scott Sisters challenged their convictions
on direct appeal; arguing that there was insufficient evidence to
convict them, and the guilty verdict was against the overwhelming
weight of evidence, which should exonerate them. The court of appeals
found no error and affirmed the convictions on December 17, 1996.
As a result, they filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the
Supreme Court, which was denied on May 15, 1997. They consequently
filed an Application for Leave to File Motion to Vacate Conviction
pursuant to the Mississippi Post Conviction Collateral Relief Act.
The Supreme Court also denied that application.
attorneys from the lower court failed to interview and subpoena
witnesses for the hearing. The jury never heard the testimony from
the victims. Their attorney only called one witness, when there
were several. The sisters did not testify on their own behalf, because
both their attorneys advised them not to. The attorneys failed to
interview and subpoena the witnesses.
affidavits of 3 witnesses were newly discovered evidence, and were
unknown during the lower court trial. Attorney Chokwe Lumumba submitted
a request for commutation of sentence and pardon to the governor.
It was denied.
and Jamie’s older brother is presently serving in Iraq for the US Army, while Americans have wrongfully
placed his sisters in prison on double life terms. No one was murdered,
injured or taken to the hospital.
children have suffered the most from justice denied.
To assist with the struggle for exoneration of the Scott sisters, please visit:
Nancy Lockhart, is a legal
representative and community organizer, living in South
Carolina. She has worked tirelessly - for no pay - on the case of
two Black females illegally charged and sentenced to double life.
to contact Ms. Lockhart.