Women in Prison: Where Do We Draw the Line?

Minorities are being incarcerated at increasingly alarming rates in the United States; however, female minority incarcerations have spiked, in recent times. Within this heart-wrenching escalation lies wrongful convictions – yet another addition to the Prison Industrial Complex. While researching avenues of freedom for two wrongfully convicted women in Mississippi, Jamie and Gladys Scott, I’ve come across many alarming statistics of female minority incarcerations within the Prison Industrial Complex. Through my years of research, I’ve realized that Jamie and Gladys are not the only women suffering at the hands of America’s Prison Industrial Complex.

In a column titled, “Perversion of Justice: Gulag America,” Rudy Amanda, an investigative journalist, states that “female incarceration rates jumped 64% from 1995 to 2006.” Stunning! This only makes one imagine the percentages of wrongful convictions within this population. My years of research with the wrongful conviction of The Scott Sisters, led to reviewing transcripts of their trial and has been a life-changing event for me, as well as, others.

In 1994, Jamie and Gladys Scott were wrongfully convicted in the state of Mississippi. A corrupt sheriff used coercion, threats, and harassment to convict the Scott Sisters of armed robbery. This case is an intriguing one, with transcripts stating that perhaps 9, 10, or 11 dollars was stolen. It’s important to note that no one was murdered or injured, in the alleged robbery. One of the state’s witnesses, a 14 year old, testified that he did not have an attorney present when signing a statement prepared by the sheriff; he also testified that he did not read the statement.

The prosecution argued that on the night of December 24, 1993, Gladys and Jamie Scott, along with two minors and one young adult male planned and conducted the armed robbery. The prosecution also argued that the sisters were the masterminds behind this robbery. These facts were argued and substantiated with conflicting witness testimony and continuous leading questions – all allowed by the Trial Court. On direct examination it became apparent that the alleged victims failed to link the Scott Sisters to the commission of the robbery.

Jamie and Gladys Scott have served 14 years of double-life sentences, thus far, for a robbery they did not commit. That’s Double Life Each! The Scott sisters, with no prior convictions before their sentencing, now wallow in the belly of the Prison Industrial Complex.

The emotional strain this burden has placed upon their family is immeasurable. Their children, grandchildren, and mother have been forced to wade in the waters of financial-hardship. Their father, though a strong man, passed away, following the illegal incarceration of his two beautiful daughters.

From The Diary of Jamie Scott

My name is Jamie Scott and I do understand there are many people out there that don’t understand a lot about prison and what someone goes through in a situation such as this. Please don’t get me wrong; IF you commit a crime, then you should be punished.

In the state of Mississippi, the crime chart is just crazy. I have met so many women here, whose husbands were beating the living mess out of them and these ladies had legal action against their husbands, but as soon as she tries to stop him from killing her and she takes his life, she comes to prison. But keep in mind: they still do not receive two life sentences. Men are here for brutal raping of children and women, but yet they don’t have double life.

When I entered prison at the tender age of 22, I felt like my world was coming apart and life was not worth living. There were no more secrets and I had to strip naked in front of everyone, including men, because they thought it was funny. I was made to spread my buttocks and the officer looked. If I had a gun, I would have ended my life right then. In October of 1994, I was placed in a 12 x 12 cell to be under solitary confinement. I was let out of solitary in April 1995 and went to a unit filled with 100 females.

One bad part about this entire situation is the women I have encountered. I met this woman who told me she was driving down the highway and her baby would not stop crying, so she stopped and threw her child over the bridge. Guess what, she left me here. She has gone home. So many have killed their own children, but none have received the amount of time my sister and I have received. I have never been one to judge someone and that is why so many come to me and share their thoughts. I must admit, sometimes I get so angry when it involves a child. I get angry with the Mississippi judicial system because here my sister and I sit with double life and this person took an innocent child’s life.

In the midst of all the hurt I have endured, nothing could prepare me for the times I went on funeral detail. My sister and I had to go to the funerals of our grandfather, grandmother, father and sister, who died on my birthday, shackled like dogs.

When I think of the word “strongest,” I think of my mother. She is 4 feet 9 inches tall, and has the strength of Job in the Bible. I know it is only God keeping her alive. She had to bury her long time friend and soul mate of 30 years, and then she buried her oldest daughter… Yet, at times, Gladys and I feel dead to her because we are not there. Our mother has raised our children and is now raising our grandchildren.

One thing I do not have is hate in my heart concerning anyone who played a roll in Gladys and me being here. After reading our transcript over and over, I have come to realize that the Patrick men were really trying to help us, but to also save themselves during trial. That is why they said they never wrote the statements and that the statements were written out for them. They were trying to tell the jury that these statements were written out before we were arrested. Then, they tried to tell them how they were threatened, but it did not work. I am not bitter or angry with them. If I were to see them now, I would hug them and tell them I love them. They were just young victims, as well. They got played by the system, just as we did.

For all that don’t know, slavery in Mississippi has changed names. It is still very much active and alive in Mississippi. Its’ new name is called, the LAW! So, if there is anyone out there that thinks this cannot happen to their child or family, think about Gladys and Jamie Scott. We were not criminals nor were we drug addicts. I worked everyday. I have a right to be bitter, angry, mad as hell at the United States of America, but I choose not to because I know a higher power and Gladys and I WILL walk the streets again.

For more on the case of Jamie and Gladys Scott, please visit:

Free the Scott Sisters

Free Jamie-Gladys petition

Nancy Lockhart, is a Legal Analyst and community organizer, living in South Carolina. She has worked tirelessly - for no pay - on the case of two Black females illegally charged and sentenced to double life. She can be reached at: TheWrongfulConviction (at) gmail.com Read other articles by Nancy R. Lockhart, M.J., or visit Nancy R. Lockhart, M.J.'s website.

11 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. lloyd rowsey said on March 4th, 2009 at 4:47am #

    Thanks for this Nancy. I’m going to submit it as a Quickline at OpEdNews, requesting the Editors to put it in the “General News” column, near the center of OEN’s homepage. Please come over if you have time, and comment on it and on any comments to it, there.

    Lloyd Rowsey

  2. lloyd rowsey said on March 4th, 2009 at 4:48am #

    Thanks for this Nancy. I’m going to submit it as a Quicklink at OpEdNews, requesting the Editors to put it in the “General News” column, near the center of OEN’s homepage. Please come over if you have time, and comment on it and on any comments to it, there.

    Lloyd Rowsey

  3. Josie Michel-Brüning said on March 4th, 2009 at 7:42am #

    Above all, thanks to the author Nancy R. Lockhart!

    Please, include the following political prisoners into your campaign, “free the Scott Sisters”: the “Cuban Five”, the Sioux leader Leonard Peltier, the black journalist Mumia Abu Jamal.
    After all, there seems to be a world wide campaign for a new jurisdiction needed, a real change of our neoliberal system.
    However, to begin with we can pick up those prominent and ourstanding cases.

    Best wishes to all of us.

  4. Diane said on March 4th, 2009 at 8:44am #

    Nancy, Slavery, or the state of being dominated, is alive and well in more than Mississippi! I do understand there is a need for law and order. I do understand there is a need for accountability and punishment for actions. There is never a need for cruelty. There should be a standard for EVERYONE including those enforcing the laws. Our society is not concerned with justice and fairness and either ignores or condones cruelty of so many kinds in our legal and prison systems. Our legal system rewards for conviction rates whether they are real or manipulated. We have modern technology that could help identify the guilty or perhaps the innocent but withholds those tools. Why? Where is the accountability for those people that withhold justice? Let’s think about this sanely. When we see that people are FINALLY allowed to prove their innocence, it is almost always after decades of being in prison. Why would it possibly take that many years to prove one’s innocence? Don’t those wasted years make anyone angry? It becomes even more bazaar if those wasted years could have been avoided by acknowledging the results of a test. Let’s face the fact that our prison system is a corrupt government money maker using humans as their commodity and nobody is made accountable.

  5. lloyd rowsey said on March 4th, 2009 at 9:08am #

    This article has now appeared at OpEdNews, in the “Best Op-Ed” column, down about halfway on OEN’s homepage. Please be aware that OEN has a policy against “Prisoner Advocay” (sic), and this article was only accepted because of its excellence and because it concerned women. So anyone going there to put up repeated and persistent pleas for “Prisoners Rights” (ie, conducting “Prisoner Advocacy”) can expect their comment(s) to be deleted.

  6. Nancy Lockhart, M.J. said on March 4th, 2009 at 10:51am #

    Thank You Lloyd,

    I will join you at Op Ed! As a volunteer for the Scott sisters assistance as such is certainly welcome. Unfortunately, there are not enough resources or hours in the day to take on additional cases. Our justice system is in dire need or an overhaul.
    Nancy Lockhart

  7. Nancy Lockhart, M.J. said on March 5th, 2009 at 7:37am #

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  8. Todd Olson said on March 5th, 2009 at 10:51am #

    Dear Lord please lord I beg you, I remember what both of these grils are going threw. But I got off completely much easyer then they have.Please lord help us think of more ways to help. You are my best friend lord I walk with you & you walk for me. Help me think.

  9. gloria killian said on March 5th, 2009 at 1:57pm #

    I spent 17 1/2 in prison for a crime that I didn’t commit until I was exonerated in 2002. I totally understand the hell these women endure. We must get them out!

  10. Peggy Miller said on March 7th, 2009 at 6:53am #

    I have been “Blessed” to meet both of these Christian ladies and knew a lot about their fight for freedom from their wrongful conviction. I am SO THRILLED that Nancy Lockhart has taken on the spreading of the TRUTH about this case and am praying “real justice” will soon happen for Gladys and Jamie. I have a Cousin wrongfully convicted as well and we KNOW this is just AWFUL!! My love one was charged and convicted 18 years after her step daughter died on her couch. She was convicted with “NO EVIDENCE”. She was convicted on “Speculation, Conjecture and Theory” only, and has a life sentence. I could tell you things about her case that you just would not believe. She also is at the same facility as the Scott Sisters and we used to have the same day for visits but that has changed because they moved these sisters to seperate buildings several years ago. I am praying for them and ALL wrongfully convicted. Thank you for the publicity and hopefully someone will see or hear their story and help them. None of us have the money it would take to help fight these cases. Especially the one’s where no “DNA” or “new evidence” are part of their fight. DNA cases are being looked at but backlogged no telling how far back. We really need some very compitent lawyers to help us. Fees would range from 200,000 dollars and up. Mississippi does not want to admit to wrongful convictions so it is a horrible web these ladies are in but I am SO THANKFUL for people who REALLY CARE!!

  11. evelyn rasco said on May 15th, 2009 at 1:41pm #

    my name is evelyn rasco i am the mother of jamie and gladys scott life for my daugthers in side the prison walls have been a real nightmarie for me and there kids we live with not understanding how could this happen in the united states of america were you get two life sentence and never physically touched any one our justice styem is nothing but about money the more people they put in prison the more money they make so they dont care that they are distorying kids life i am trying my best to get this to the president and i will not stop my daugthers are dieing in that prison so i take my hat off to people like nancy and everone that have devoted there lives to fight wrongfull convition of anyone the america people should be outrage when they hear cases like this this grils have 5 kids and in 14 yeaars they have 4 grandkids the olds one is 6 years old and it is very hard to explain to them why this happen so please spread this story this is the greatist injustice not just for these 9 kids but also for me to live with i am 63 years old and not in good health these grils need to come home so they can take care of there kids and grankids instead of dieing in a prison cell for nothing please help anyway you can nancy can use all the help she can get a mothers cry for help