By Eddie Griffin
We are torn apart by the State of Mississippi and its heartless treatment of a terminally ill African-American grandmother in prison. Even more, we are confused as to who to blame for this travesty and miscarriage of justice.
We understand that Jamie Scott was sent to prison with a double life sentence over an $11 robbery in which no one was hurt. We understand also that neither she, nor her sister, took direct part in the crime. Nevertheless, they were both given the same harsh sentence.
Despite Jamie and Gladys Scott steadfastly maintaining their innocence, Jamie now suffers kidney failure and is undergoing dialysis treatment. Without a transplant, she will likely die. Why would state officials allow this to happen, in light of the fact that they have each already served 15 years?
We have seen justice perverted many times before in Mississippi. We remember the fate of Emmett Till, Medgar Evers, Vernon Dahmer, and the three Civil Rights students James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner.
In Texas, we watched a college student who was falsely accused of rape languish in prison for over 10 years, only to die an ignoble death on a cold concrete floor, partly from medical neglect and heartbreak. He was an innocent kid, a military veteran who served his country in the Gulf War. His name was Tim Cole.
Nobody wants to die in prison, especially an innocent person like Tim Cole. Even today, at this writing, Texas Governor Rick Perry is in the process of delivering a posthumous pardon to the young man’s family. No one seems to remember that the same governor had the power to pardon him prior to his demise.
It is obvious Jamie Scott needs the attention of the International Red Cross, because Chief Medical Officer Gloria Perry, despite her accolades and meritorious achievements, is a Mississippian in the same mold as her forefathers. Medical neglect is systemic and wanton.
The Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) has a provision for a “conditional medical release”. But the plea of the Scott Sister seems to reach only the deaf ears of the hardhearted. Therefore, it does no good for the victim to complain to the victimizer. We must reach higher.
The U.S Justice Department has a Special Litigation section in charge of enforcing the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act. The case of Jamie Scott hinges close to criminal negligence. And, her double life sentence is excessive, cruel, and unusual.