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Jailed sisters released for kidney transplant

January 7, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Two sisters were serving life sentences for a crime they say they did not commit. But after 16 years behind bars, they've been released--not because of their innocence, but due to a medical condition.The governor of Mississippi released the Scott sisters, Jamie and Gladys, with an unusual condition that one donates a kidney to her ailing sister.

The women said they don't mind the reason and that they're just happy to be free.

"I want to give my sister a chance to walk out of that prison door and I want to give her a chance now, because the fight is not over," said Gladys Scott, who will be giving a kidney to her sister.

Gov. Haley Barbour agreed to the early release on the condition that Gladys would donate her kidney to Jamie within one year.

Jamie Scott , who is suffering from kidney failure, is on dialysis and it was costing the state too much.

"You know, it cost us $190,000 a year for dialysis for just one patient. Mississippi's taxpayers ought not to be paying for that," Barbour said in a radio interview.

The Scott sisters were sent to prison for their role in a 1993 armed robbery where the takeaway may have been anywhere from $11 to $200.

Civil rights groups, such as the NAACP, argued all along that the punishment did not fit the crime.

"If Gov. Barbour did not think this was a case of injustice, he would not have acted," said NAACP president Ben Jealous.

The sisters said they're just happy to reunite with their loved ones. And even though life is a lot different outside, they're quickly catching up.

"Today I used most of everybody's cell phones that's with me. I just wanted to touch them, and I've been playing with them and everything. It's so amazing, you know, how the world has changed since 1994," said Jamie Scott.

The Mississippi governor's office said even if Gladys Scott is not a match for her sister, she will not be returned to prison.

Some people in the medical community said this case goes down a slippery slope. They fear more inmates will line up as organ donors just to secure an early release.