US & Canada

Sisters' parole linked to kidney donation

September 2010 protest for Scott sisters in Mississippi
Image caption Rights activists had argued the two sisters' sentence was too harsh

Two US women convicted of armed robbery can be released but only if one donates a kidney to the other, the governor of Mississippi has said.

Jamie and Gladys Scott were convicted in 1994 of taking part in a robbery that netted a mere $11 (£7).

Their lawyer, Chokwe Lumumba, hailed Governor Haley Barbour's decision as a victory.

The sisters were eligible for parole in 2014 and rights activists had criticised their sentence as harsh.

Jamie, 38, who requires daily dialysis, and Gladys, 36, are serving life sentences for leading two men into an ambush in Mississippi in 1993.

During the robbery, three teenagers struck each man on the head with a shotgun before taking their wallets, according to court documents.

Financial burden

Mr Barbour said prison officials no longer think the sisters, who are eligible for parole in 2014, are a threat to society.

He added that Mississippi bore the cost of treating Jamie's medical condition each year she was in prison.

Mr Barbour, a Republican, has agreed the indefinite suspension of their sentences, which can be reversed if terms are broken.

"I think it's a victory. I talked to Gladys and she's elated about the news. I'm sure Jamie is, too," Mr Lumumba told the Associated Press news agency.

Mr Lumumba said Gladys had volunteered the kidney donation.

Hundreds of protesters marched through the Mississippi capital of Jackson in September, calling for the release of the women.

It is unclear when the two prisoners would be freed if the kidney transplant moves forward.

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