The NAACP is praising Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) for suspending the sentence of Gladys and Jamie Scott — two sisters sentenced to two life terms for robbing a man at gunpoint.
The sisters had no prior record when they were convicted of the crime in 1993. The NAACP has long championed their early release and has said the fact they are black played a role in their sentence.
"The Mississippi Department of Corrections believes the sisters no longer pose a threat to society. 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," he said in a statement.
"Jamie Scott requires regular dialysis, and her sister has offered to donate one of her kidneys to her. … Gladys Scott's release is conditioned on her donating one of her kidneys to her sister, a procedure which should be scheduled with urgency. The release date for Jamie and Gladys Scott is a matter for the Department of Corrections," he said.
Barbour also noted that the parole board reviewed his decision and has "concurred with my decision to suspend their sentences indefinitely."
NAACP President Ben Jealous praised Barbour, calling the sisters' release "great news" in a blog post on the NAACP's website.
"This is a shining example of how governors should use their commutation powers," Jealous told The Washington Post.
Barbour, who is said to be considering a 2012 presidential bid, came under fire a few weeks ago for telling the Weekly Standard he didn't remember the civil rights era being "that bad."
He later clarified his remarks, saying it was a "difficult and painful era for Mississippi."
The Mississippi NAACP criticized his comments at the time.