Monday, October 18, 2010

The Letter to Haley Barbour

Editors note: We have adjusted the letter below to reflect the sisters' location and a an updated version of the letter has been sent to Governor Barbour. 10/27/10 ~dms

Freedom Riders to Free the Scott Sisters
268 Bush Street, Suite 3602
San Francisco, CA 94104
(210) 200-8879 chatrabbi -@-

October 26, 2010

Hon. Haley Barbour
Governor of Mississippi
300 East Capitol Street
Jackson, MS 39201-34957

Shannon Warnock, Chairman
State of Mississippi Parole Board
660 North Street, Suite 100A
Jackson, MS 39202-3141

Re: Parole or Commutation of Sentences for Jamie and Gladys Scott

Dear Messers. Barbour and Warnock:

You have probably read or otherwise learned about columnist Bob Herbert’s piece in the New York Times (October 12, 2010) regarding two black sisters named Jamie and Gladys Scott who have been languishing in the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility for 18 years, allegedly for helping three younger children steal $11.00. Incredibly, beyond the comprehension of any but the most cynical criminal law practitioner, each sister received two lifetime sentences for these offenses. And now Jamie Scott is suffering from a serious kidney disease.

Fifty years ago, 436 idealistic young Americans “sat in” at segregated bus stations and railroad terminals, where blacks and whites were prevented from using the same restaurants, restrooms, drinking fountains, etc. Nearly three-quarters of us were arrested in Mississippi for violating “Jim Crow” laws, and were imprisoned in Parchman for up to 39 days. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed our convictions after the Interstate Commerce Commission barred segregation in interstate transportation facilities.

On behalf of all Freedom Riders, who did time during the summer and fall of 1961, we are writing you to ask for a modicum of justice and compassion for the Scott Sisters.

We who did time at Parchman have a special reason to empathize with the suffering of the Scott Sisters. You can also see by the other organizations and friends of justice who have signed this petition, that many of our sisters and brothers share our indignation at this egregious act of criminal justice malpractice.

As we plan to celebrate our 50th Freedom Rider reunion next May in Jackson, we respectfully ask you to commute the Scott Sisters’ sentence or pardon them well before then. We hope to see that, because of your justice and compassion, these two women are no longer imprisoned in the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility.

In the words of the Prophet, Isaiah 42:7, we call upon you to "bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.”


Freedom Riders

Steven McNichols, arrested August 11, 1961, lawcenter -@-, (650) 689-5682
Rabbi Philip M. Posner, arrested July 30, 1961, chatrabbi -@-, (210) 200-8879

Charles Person, Atlanta, GA, on the first bus May 14, 1961, beaten in Anniston and Birmingham.
Catherine Burks-Brooks, Birmingham, AL, arrested May 21, 1961 and May 28, 1961

Bernard LaFayette, Jr., arrested May 24, 1961
Jean Thompson, arrested May 24, 1961
Matt Walker, Nashville, TN, arrested May 24, 1961
John David Maguire, Claremont, CA, arrested May 24, 1961
David B. Fankhauser, PhD, Batavia, OH, arrested May 28, 1961
William (Bill) Harbour, Atlanta, GA, arrested May 28, 1961
Robert Heller, NY, NY, arrested, arrested May 30, 1961
Ralph Fertig, Fullerton, CA, arrested June 2, 1961
Joan T. Mulholland, Arlington, VA, arrested June 8, 1961
Eugene Uphoff, Portland, OR, arrested June 11, 1961
Rabbi Israel Dresner, Wayne, NJ, arrested June 16, 1961 (Tallahassee)
Elizabeth Hirshfeld, Oakland, CA, arrested June 16, 1961
Joan Pleune, Brooklyn, NY, arrested June 20, 1961
Miriam Real, Mill Valley, CA, arrested June 21, 1961
Jorgia Siegel Bordofsky, Santa Barbara, CA, arrested June 20, 1961
Margaret Leonard, Tallahassee, FL, arrested June 21, 1961
Thomas Armstrong, Naperville, IL, arrested June 23, 1961
George Blevins, Nederland, CO, arrested June 25, 1961
John Dolan, Emeryville, CA, arrested June 25, 1961
Dan Stevens, Chicago, Il, arrested July 7, 1961
Albert Gordon, Stephentown, NY, arrested July 9, 1961
Edward Johnson, Inglewood, CA, arrested July 9, 1961
Lew Zuchman, NY, NY, arrested July 16, 1961
Paul Breines, Boston, MA, arrested July 21, 1961
Candida (Lall) Pugh, Chicago, IL, arrested July 23, 1961.
Margaret Oakley, San Francisco, CA, arrested July 23, 1961
Ellen L. Ziskind, Brookline, MA, arrested July 29, 1961
Rick Sheviakov, San Anselmo, CA, arrested July 29, 1961
Woolcott Smith, West Tisbury, MA, arrested July 29, 1961
Helen Singleton, Los Angeles, CA, arrested July 30, 1961
Bob Singleton, Los Angeles, CA, arrested July 30, 1961
Joseph Stevenson, Astoria, OR, arrested August 9, 1961 (Houston)
Ellen Kleiman (Broms), Sacramento, CA, arrested August 11, 1961 (Houston)
Patricia Kovner, Laytonville. CA, arrested August 11, 1961 (Houston)
Beverley Radcliffe Mill, Pitt Meadows, Canada, arrested August 11, 1961 (Houston)
Steven Sanfield, Nevada City, CA, August 11, 1961, (Houston)
Gilbert S. Avery III, Eugene, OR, arrested September 13, 1961
Joan Browning, arrested December 10, 1961 (Albany)
Bob Zellner, Southampton, NY, arrested December 10, 1961 (Albany)

Additional Signers

Friends of Justice

Elizabeth Adair, Glendale, CA
Shelley Kovar Becker, Southington, CT
Rabbi Haim Dove Beliak, Los Angele, CA
Alan Bensman, Minnetanka, MN
Carol Bensman, Minnetanka, MN
Julian Bond, Baltimore, MD
Reber Boult
Lois Chafee, NY, NY
Rabbi Hillel Cohn, San Bernardino, CA

Eileen Collard, Minneapolis, MN
Gordon Fellman, Cambridge, MA

Jane Fellman, Glendale, CA

Rabbi Allen L. Freehling, Los Angeles, CA
Sam Friedmann
John Gibson, Brookland, AR
Hunter Gray, Pocatello, ID
Scott Harrison, Nederland, CO
Roberta Hilleman, Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico

Bruce Hartford, San Francisco, CA
Ash-Lee Henderson, Chatttanooga, TN
Rabbi Mark Hurvitz, NY, NY
Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs, Woodland Hills, CA
Professor Paula C. Johnson, Syracuse, NY
Anita Lee, Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico
Chokwe Lumumba, Jackson, MS (lawyer for the sisters)
Janis McDonald, Syracuse, NY
Rev. John Mingus, Venice, FL
Ellen T. Moore, AIUSA, Colorado
Curtis Muhammed
Charles Ogletree
Rev. Dr. Peter A. Petit, Allentown, PA
Myra Posner, Dana Point, CA
David Ranney
Susana Salazar
Rabbi John M. Sherwood, Oxnard, CA
Gwendolyn Simmons, Ph.D., Gainesville, FL

Paula Tavrow, Pasadena, CA

Sheila Turner, Ajijic, Jalisco, CA
Clifford Vaughs, Puerto Vallarto, Jalisco, Mexico
Greg Van Hook, Upper Black Eddy, PA
Susan Sklaroff Van Hook, Upper Black Eddy, PA
James A. Young

Additional signers

Jan Hillegas, Jackson, MS
Phyllis Cunningham, NY, NY

Ed Gresham, Ajijic, Mexico
Lin Gresham, Ajijic, Mexico
Bette Poole Marsh, Chicago, IL




Jackson NAACP
Mississippi NAACP
Mississippi ACLU

Religious Action Center of the Union of Reform Judaism
Catholic Bishops of America

Organizations Calling For The Scott Sisters Release

Jackson NAACP
Mississippi NAACP
Mississippi ACLU


Add your name to the lists above by sending your name and city-state to:
chatrabbi -@- (Delete the dashes to make a sendable address.)
Suggestions are welcome!

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