Sunday, January 9, 2011

Another bogus race case: Smith sisters

We have to stop presenting misleading stories to the public and inflaming racial issues. The latest refers to the Scott sisters , one of whom (Jamie) needs a kidney transplant to live. Both were incarcerated for a crime they committed together. The governor of Miss. has pardoned both of them on the condition that Gladys donate her kidney to Jamie. There is a debate as to whether one sisters' physical condition should factor into her release, especially if there's a financial component for the state. In addition, whether a willingness to donate a kidney to your sister can/should be a requirement or even a factor in a release from prison. But regardless of that disposition, some are trying to argue these women were victims of racism.

That's just wrong.

I have read the court transcript of the armed robbery case where Jamie and Gladys Scott were convicted.

Many in the black community have celebrated these two as victims of a racial if not racist criminal justice system. This is unfortunate because our system does have great disparities that work against the poor, disportionately racial minorities.

Governor Haley Barbour apparently released them so they can share a kidney and save the state of Mississippi large medical costs; also to get good press from the African American community, especially given his suspect record on race issues.

The fact is they should not be celebrated. You can debate how long they should have been sentenced, but given what could have happened that night, and the evidence that they were the masterminds, I would accept the long sentences they were given.

The transcript shows that while there is some disagreement among the victims and witnesses, the basic story holds true that these two women set two people up to be robbed. In addition, they participated in it by giving orders and at one point holding the weapon.

There's no credible evidence that this was a southern style race case where the facts were manipulated.

Here's things I noticed from the court transcript:

the sisters didn't testify. They have that legal right, but you can't also argue that you were totally innocent and the victim of a bad criminal justice system, without telling what happened. There's a difference between your legal rights and what's right.

The victims and the perpertrators all agree the girls were involved. There's no reason I can think of that everybody involved would say the girls were conspirators if they weren't.

the robbers drove the girls' car. It is uncontradicted that the girls came with the robbers, and left with the robbers in their own car. That is in the record. So it seems to me it's hard to say you're not involved when 3 guys rob someone, after following a car you cause to stop in the middle of nowhere, and then after the crime, you leave with them. Again, if this isn't what happened, that's why you testify.

Another point that bothers me is that people say it was an "$11 robbery". That is how much one of the conspirators says he got when he and the other 3 (including the 2 sisters) split the money.

But the victim who had money (the other was pretty much broke) said they took over $200. There's no contradiction of his testimony. So the $11 figure is misleading, because it could very well be what that one person got, not representing the total amount the girls got which was not addressed during the trial.

It is an insult to the truly racist past of this nation, and the actual victims of bigotry, to include these type of criminals in a civil rights discussion. It is a sign of great progress that some have to stretch the truth so far to implicate bigotry in the public square.

2011 should be about true justice, not people manipulating facts and history.

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