Seeking to repair damage from remarks that were ripped for insensitivity to the Jim Crow era in his Mississippi hometown, Gov. Haley Barbour acceded Wednesday to a long-running bid by the NAACP to free two sisters imprisoned on armed robbery charges in 1994, the civil rights group said late Wednesday.
Barbour, who said in a magazine article published earlier this month that he didn't remember the civil rights revolution as "being that bad" and downplayed the discriminatory role of his native Yazoo City's Citizens Council, agreed to suspend indefinitely Jamie and Gladys Scott's sentences, which the NAACP has long said could have been tainted by racism.
Both women were sentenced to double life sentences after convictions in an armed robbery over their denials of any involvement. According to the NAACP, Barbour has agreed to suspending Gladys Scott's sentence on the condition she donate her kidney to Jamie Scott, who is suffering from kidney failure that requires dialysis.
"The Mississippi Department of Corrections believes the sisters no longer pose a threat to society," Barbour said in a 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."