Nasty. Very, very nasty. And note how this discussion is turning our eyes away from the fact that the Scott sisters' sentence was atrociously unfair to begin with.
But an unusual aspect of the arrangement is also drawing scrutiny: Barbour said his action was "conditioned on" one sister donating a kidney to the other.
The case involves sisters serving double life sentences for armed robbery convictions. Barbour agreed this week to suspend their sentences in light of the poor health of 38-year-old Jamie Scott, who requires regular dialysis. The governor said in a statement that 36-year-old Gladys Scott's release is conditioned on her giving a kidney to her inmate sibling.
"The Mississippi Department of Corrections believes the sisters no longer pose a threat to society," Barbour said in the statement. "Their incarceration is no longer necessary for public safety or rehabilitation, and Jamie Scott's medical condition creates a substantial cost to the State of Mississippi. . . . Gladys Scott's release is conditioned on her donating one of her kidneys to her sister, a procedure which should be scheduled with urgency."
But worry not! If Gladys' kidney turns out not to match she doesn't have to go back to prison! Mindboggling. That Gladys may have suggested this "trade" is irrelevant. Prisoners should not be released on the basis of such "trades" or because their cases cost the state of Mississippi too much.
Otherwise any prisoner with rich relatives could simply buy his or her way out. I know that we don't have the kind of justice system children are taught at school but at least we shouldn't turn it into some explicit market system.