When newly sworn-in Governor Phil Bryant announced his support for a constitutional amendment to reform the pardoning process in Mississippi, he said that pardons should only be allowed when there is "clear and convincing evidence" that someone has been wrongly convicted. If there is ever a case that meets that standard, it is the case of Jamie and Gladys Scott.
In 1993, the Scott sisters were sentenced to life in prison for allegedly plotting with three teenagers to commit an armed robbery. The robbery only netted $11 to $200, depending on the source. However, one of the teens, Howard Patrick, later revealed that he was forced to sign an affidavit implicating the Scotts in the robbery despite not having the chance to read it beforehand--even though he was only 14 years old at the time. He was also told that if he didn't sign it, he would be sent to an adult prison and raped.
In just about any other state, this sort of egregious law enforcement misconduct would be grounds for a mistrial and a directed verdict of acquittal. But the Scotts were still convicted, and were only paroled last year because Jamie Scott was suffering from kidney failure and would die without a transplant.
The Scotts have exhausted all of their appeals, and former governor Haley Barbour refused to even consider a pardon because they haven't shown remorse. Considering that it is clear beyond all reasonable doubt that the Scotts are innocent, this statement simply defies credulity. Even without this to consider, a life sentence for a robbery with such a meager take is the definition of cruel and unusual punishment. Presently, the Scotts are living in Florida, and must pay $52 a month for the rest of their lives. Also, they must lose weight before having the transplant surgery, and there is no guarantee that Jamie Scott will survive until then or that her body will accept Gladys' kidney.
Governor Bryant has the chance to give the Scott sisters a measure of justice, even if it is almost two decades after the fact. If his standard for pardons means anything at all, he must grant one to the Scotts.