If there was ever a clearer representation of the ills in the American justice system, here it is. Down in Mississippi, two Black women, Jaime and Gladys Scott are in prison for life for…wait for it…an $11 robbery. Seriously?!?!?!? Moreover, from what I have read from about this case, no one was hurt, the prosecutor has no direct evidence linking the sisters and three other people confessed to the crime. However, even if the sisters did commit the crime, is a life sentence really necessary. Can someone say cruel and unusual punishment?
Now instead of harping on what civil rights organizations are doing or not doing, YOU DO IT by contacting the Mississippi Attorney General at
Telephone: 601-359-3680 MS Attorney General’s Office
Walter Sillers Building
550 High Street, Suite 1200
Jackson, MS 39201
When you call or write, ask the office to investigate the Scott sister’s case and to look into the health of Jaime Scott.
The press release with more details is below.
Stay up fam,
PRESS RELEASETHE COMMITTEE TO FREE THE SCOTT SISTERS
CONTACT: Mrs. Evelyn Rasco P.O. Box 7100Pensacola, Florida 32534
E-mail:rqueenbee2222 @ yahoo.com
Case Summary: http://freethescottsisters.blogspot.com/search/label/Case%20Summary
Legal Transcripts: http://www.scribd.com/Scott%20Sisters4/2010MISSISSIPPI INJUSTICE: A DOUBLE-LIFE SENTENCE FOR $11.00!
Scott County, MS– — In a trial fraught with legal malpractice, lack of evidence and witness
coercion, Mississippi Judge Marcus Gordon sentenced sisters Gladys and Jamie Scott to
double-life each in an armed robbery. No matter the veracity of testimony; the lack of
physical evidence and the absence of any previous criminal activity of the accused; in a
questionable crime, where no one was murdered or harmed and the amount alleged to have
been taken as a whopping $11.00, one has to ask if this is Mississippi, the state in the
United States of America ? And, how does a court abdicate the national principles of justice
and fair judicial process ?
On December 24, 1993, the Scott County Sheriff’s Department arrested the Scott sisters for
armed robbery even though three persons confessed to committing the crime. The
Mississippi sheriff used coercion, threats, and harassment to compel these individuals to
become state’s evidence against the Scott sisters. His motive ? A long-standing vendetta
against the Father of the sisters. Later a local teen, without benefit of counsel would testify
that he was pressured to sign a written statement that he did not read and was prepared by
the sheriff. No weapon was ever recovered in this case.
During the course of the short trial only one witness was called and the sisters at the
direction of questionable legal advice, never testified or spoke for themselves during the
course of their trial.
Jamie, now 38 and Gladys, 34 are now entering their 16th year of incarceration. Jamie has
lost function of both kidneys and is gravely ill, being provided inadequate medical
treatment may very well see her sentence as a death sentence unless the Mississippi Prison
Commission relents in its rigid negligent medical care decisions for her. Recently, Jamie
Scott was diagnosed by an outside physician as being at Stage 5 (end stage) of this illness,
the next stage being death. Should Jamie Scott die in prison for an alleged robbery of
$11.00 almost 16 years ago?
A national campaign has been undertaken by their elderly Mother, Mrs. Evelyn Rasco, to
gain justice for her daughters and their family. Nationwide support for Jamie and Gladys is
building increasingly louder and active.
Nancy Lockhart, the young woman who has acted as the spokesperson of the Free the Scott
Sisters Campaign, and the Mother of Jamie and Gladys Scott are available for live and
telephone interviews. They have been featured guests on the Warren Ballentine Show ( XM
Radio The Power); Our Common Ground with Janice Graham ( USTalkNetwork); The
Mark Thompson Show ( Sirius Radio The Left Side); The Rip Daniels Show, WJZD
Mississippi; and their comments are featured in many newspapers across the country and
throughout the blogosphere.In June, 2009, Dr. Lenore J. Daniels, PhD of the Editorial
Board of BlackCommentator.com wrote about the wrongfully conviction of Jamie and Gladys Scott in a featured editorial, titled, “Represent Our Resistance” (http://freethescottsisters.blogspot.com/2009/08/dr-lenore-daniels-says-to-represent-our_19.html) and Mother Jones magazine’s investigative reporter, James Ridgeway, did an exhaustive piece entitled, “Cruel and Unusual Health Care — How Mississippi Prisoner
Jamie Scott’s Life Sentence Could Turn Into a Death Sentence” (http://motherjones.com/politics/2010/03/jamie-scott-gladys-scott-haley-barbour-wexford-health)#####
A federal judge in California dealt the first blow to Prop 8, whose course will eventually end at the US Supreme Court. Prop 8 was a ballot initiative in California that outlawed same-sex marriage. For the people who are really against same-sex marriage but feel like it’s politically correct to say otherwise, I have something especially for you. Civil rights legislation did not pass because the majority of Americans realized they loved Black people and wanted us to live equally under the law. Instead, civil rights passed when a vast number of people let go of their vice grip on civil rights for every human being.
In other words, there is a middle ground between a rabid conservative who thinks being gay is the ultimate sin of all sins and passing out beads on a float in a gay parade. The middle ground involves your own sense of what is right. And even if your reasons are spiritually based, what about gay marriage prevents you from living right or for that matter, spreading the Gospel to whomever you feel inspired?
Stay up fam,
What’s up fam,
So boom. Justice Clarence Thomas’ nephew was beaten and tased down in New Orleans. Here is how the Washington Post described it,
“Derek Thomas, 25, was immobilized with a stun gun Thursday after he tried to leave the emergency room at West Jefferson Medical Center in Marrero, La., his sister told WDSU, a local television station. Security responded after Thomas refused a doctor’s request to put on a hospital gown and started to leave, Kimberly Thomas said.”
Don’t you just love media framing? A stun gun sounds so innocent doesn’t it? When I hear “stun gun” I think about being wrapped up in a blanket in the winter and getting shocked when I go to turn on the light. However, stun guns are also known as tasers. God forbid Derek Thomas didn’t die from this ordeal but others were not so lucky like Ryan Wilson. (When Ryan took off running, officer John Harris pursued the 22-year-old for a half-mile and then shot him once with an X-26 Taser. Ryan fell to the ground and began to convulse. The officer attempted cardiopulmonary resuscitation, but Ryan died.)
Some would say, “Well, things happen. If you don’t get in trouble, you won’t get tased.” Of course this presupposes some idea of criminal activity right that is simply unfounded. Take Derek Thomas for instance, he didn’t want to put on a hospital gown. That’s what he got tased for? The problem is that tasers are dangerous tools because well-intentioned police will use them in non-life threatening situations using the following logic,
1) Life threatening situations = gun
2) Non-life threatening situations = taser.
This logic assumes that the weapon used by the police officer will be commensurate to the situation. However, “Ryan is one of nearly 200 people who have died in the last five years after being shot by a Taser stun gun. In June, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it would review these deaths.”
The issue is not about being soft on crime or aggressive on crime, it’s about making sure we apply our intelligence to the tools we use to fight crime ensuring their use is proportionate to the situation at hand. Surely, we wouldn’t use tanks to bust down people’s doors when a small ram is sufficient (I don’t know the technical term for “ram”).
Nevertheless, imagine if Derek Thomas died from that ordeal. How could his family explain that their loved one died after being tased for refusing to put on a hospital gown? It ain’t right.
So then I thought about this case making its way to the Supreme Court and even though Justice Thomas would have to recuse himself, let’s assume for argument’s sake that he sat for this case and wrote the opinion. (I would be waiting on this opinion like I was waiting on the Mega Millions winning numbers to drop)
I have not read all of Justice Thomas’ opinions but from what I have read, he is almost surely to be in favor not limiting the acts and authority of the police. What do you think his opinion would say? Would you give him praise for realizing the error of widespread taser use or would you give him respect for being consistent to his judicial philosophy despite the personal impact on his family?
I got the photo from here.“Don’t tase me bro” is a popular phrase after a UF student was tased after asking John Kerry some questions. While it has become popular in a joking sense to some, it is not funny at all. I leave you with the video of that ordeal below,
Stay up fam,
What’s up fam,
This has been a sobering week for Detroit and while I can’t quite make sense of it all, I know I need to write and revisit my thoughts later. So please, bear with me and indulge my stream of consciousness.
For those that don’t know, the city of Detroit has been ransacked by a wave of violence in the past couple of weeks involving the unrelated deaths of two children and a cop. Brian Huff, a cop, was shot dead when he and other police officers were called out to investigate shots fired from a vacant house. When the cops entered the home, the people inside the home opened fire, wounding four cops and killing Huff. Huff, 45 is survived by his wife and 10-year old son. Here is where we stand thus far according to what is being reported in the press regarding the children. Chauncey Owens, a 34 year old male shot and killed 17-year old Jerean Blake.
What’s up fam
This piece is going to be a mix of various things that have been on my mind.
1. If you haven’t noticed yet, the flurry of news surrounding Haiti relief is done. This is where the real work begins because character is what we do when no one is looking. So here we go, no more moving facebook updates, editorial cartoons, or grand speeches by political leaders. Now that no one is looking is the perfect opportunity to give more of your self. So let’s chill with the “We will never forget” slogans because if you remember and don’t do anything, what’s the point?
2. So it appears that the Dems have decided to finally commit to using reconciliation to finish health care reform. Senate Majority Leader Reid put forth a goal of having this done in 60 days and I hope and pray Democrats get this done because it is simply unconscionable for a country flush with so much wealth to have so many people go without adequate healthcare.
3. I wanted to share a quote that has had me thinking, “The greatest hindrance to living is expectancy, which depends upon the morrow and wastes to-day.”
-Lucius Annaeus Seneca
“On the Shortness of Life”
translated by John W. Basore, Loeb Classical Library
London: William Heinemann, 1932
In response to this quote, what expectations do you have of yourself and others? How do you think these expectations have helped or hindered? What informs these expectations? Do you really carpe diem or are you one of those people who go through the week like a zombie expecting to truly live when get off work on Friday?
4. I haven’t heard anything about the guy that flew his plane into the IRS building. See now if the guy was Muslim, it would be front page every day for at least two weeks. What I don’t want is more finger pointing based on race, what I want is appropriate and proportional responses based on behavior, not race.
5. Black History month is almost over and before we move on, I just want to thank all the Black people whose efforts and names will never make it into a history book or a PBS Black History month program. I represent am 27 years of Black History but I also stand on the shoulders of giants and so many elders have pulled me aside to show guidance and encouragement. Black History did not end with Civil Rights but it will be if we don’t have a burning desire to make the world better for our kids and grand kids. How much more would those coming after us resent us for being so selfish for not fighting as if all is well.
Stay up fam,
p.s. I really wish I could write more fam. Law school and life make it difficult to write the more in depth pieces I used to do more often. My apologies.
Being fake is like driving the wrong way on the freeway: dumb, dangerous, and destructive. This is true in life, relationships, and public policy.
Last week I signed a letterto the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) calling each out for stopping the acceptance of PAC & lobbyist money for one day — the day President Obama comes to fund-raise for them.
Why this is a problem
Private money perverts politics. It destroys electoral integrity by weighting the outcome in favor of moneyed interests. The DSCC & DCCC are perfectly fine with this. President Obama is not. I’m not either.
Campaigns & elections should be publicly financed. Our taxes pay the salaries of elected officials already, so why don’t we pay for their selection too? That way, things won’t get too out of control (we won’t waste money), and we’ll be more likely to hold people accountable (because we literally paid for them to be there).
Remember: nothing changes until something changes.
One Love. One II.
Photo Credit: tideswimmer on Flickr
Today, I was at my mother’s preparing my plate for Easter dinner. I ask my mom if she made the green beans with ham because I stopped eating pork… years ago. My sisters, whom I love dearly, jokingly tell me that the green beans are safe because mom made them with turkey, not ham. Another family meal, another dish I can’t eat…the innocent jokes continue. But as you well know, health care is no laughing matter.
My experience was probably similar to many of my peers across the country today and that’s unfortunate because this concern (for some, an obsession) with leading a healthy lifestyle belies the new reality in American healthcare; being healthy is the new healthcare. Think about it, insurance companies only want to insure people who are healthy and God forbid, you have any preconditions. The costs of healthcare is simply out of control. More and more, we hear about people who are drowned in medical costs, even when they have health insurance.
So if you have a son or daughter coming of age (early twenties – early thirties) and you give them grief about eating healthy, cut them some slack… for real. The reality is that provided you are healthy, managing your health insurance can be nerve racking, especially when many young professionals are forced to do consulting, stay mobile, and manage the immense debt stemming from undergraduate and graduate school.
Now when you take that stress and add a baby into the mix and the stress levels go through the roof because even if you have a job, you know that a mild emergency can lead to financial ruin. And businesses know that people will be compelled to stay in a job for the sake of medical benefits for their kids. And when you find out your deductible and co pays are going up, complaining is impossible when so many millions of Americans are not covered at all.
We need universal health care like crazy…period. We are living in a world where if you really want health insurance, you need to insure your health. So while it may cost more to eat healthier or join a gym, you really can’t afford not to.
Stay up fam,
Congratulations to President-Elect Barack Obama!
Barack Obama warned us that some would try to make this big election be about small things. My warning is that we don’t let this big opportunity only lead to small change.
More than 137 million voters cast ballots this election, up 14% from 2004. 63.7 million (56%) of those people voted for Barack Obama, giving him more votes than any candidate in the history of US Presidential Election history. That is what you call a mandate.
Being the candidate with more supporters than any other President has ever had, Obama has been given a chance to serve more people than anyone could imagine. He can impact the finances of millions of people. He can improve the health of hundreds of millions of people. He can increase the moral standing of a nation in the eyes of billions of people. What a great opportunity to carry out public service and set the tone for the spirit of shared service & shared sacrifice that he so eloquently espouses.
To whom much is given, much is required. (Luke 12:48)
The level of support and passion surrounding Barack Obama says more about the people supporting him than about Obama himself. It says that Obama is an inspirational figure, but that was evident before he started running for President. More importantly, it says that people are hungry. Hungry for change. Hungry for a new approach. Hungry for something to do. This is why Obama always talks about this election not being about him, but instead being about us.
With everybody so hungry, the onus is on the Obama team to give us something to eat. I don’t want a snack. I want a full, seven course meal. Legions of people do not organize for incremental change. Armies form to march forth into bold victory.
Now is our chance to make real, fundamental change in very progressive ways. This change will not happen because Barack Obama is a progressive. It can & will happen if we push our government, our newly-elected President, and, most importantly, ourselves to work towards the new kind of politics that Barack Obama helped us to believe was possible.
Let’s be bold. Let’s ask for a lot out of this administration. Let’s make Barack Obama a successful President by ensuring that he keeps his promise to start making big changes to the way America works. We helped him make history on November 4th. Let’s keep making history for the next 4 years.
One Love. One II.
P.S. Homework assignment: Everyone under 30 should talk to someone over 60 about what this election means to them.
YES! Magazine released today their 12 Ways You Can Safeguard the Vote tool. It contains links to lots of great resources, and tips for what you can do before, on, and after Election Day to make sure that your vote is properly counted.
Here is their checklist:
- Check Your Registration. Make sure there are no errors, mistakes, or discrepancies which would prevent you from being able to vote.
- Vote Now. Vote early, in person or by mail, if you can in your state. Check if you can using Know How To Vote.
- Learn how to vote. Read your voter pamphlet to understand how your paper ballot works, and if voting using an electronic machine, get a clear demonstration first.
- Identify State & Local election officials. Get their names and numbers because these are the people to call if there are problems.
- Vote as early as possible on Election Day to avoid long lines & hassle.
- If you have ID, bring it with you. If you have a cell phone, bring that too.
- Avoid straight-party voting. Vote for each race individually, to make sure your votes each count exactly as you want them to.
- Verify your vote, especially when voting on an electronic voting machine. There have already been cases in states like West Virginia where people used the touch screen to select Barack Obama but had the machine count their vote for John McCain. Just like at the store, get a receipt.
- Observe, Document, Report. If you or anyone else that you see has issues voting, take good notes & inform the authorities using resources such as 866-OUR-VOTE.
- Call your candidate. Encourage them to challenge results you don’t trust. Sign up to help.
- Call your election officials. Hold them accountable to their responsibility to ensure clean elections
- Work towards fair and transparent elections. Learn about election & voting issues, and take action before the next election.
One Love. One II.
P.S. I recently joined the Communications Advisory Board of YES! Magazine.
On Monday, I was interviewed as part of a small series on Politics and Technology by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine. We talked at length about early voting, why it’s such a big issue this election, what are the types of good & bad things that we can do with early voting data, and ways that people can find out early voting information with tools like Know How To Vote.
I’m looking forward to talking with Jeff again about Politics and Technology soon.
One Love. One II.