JACKSON, Mississippi — A debate is unfolding over an unusual offer from Mississippi's governor: He will free two sisters imprisoned for an $11 armed robbery, but one woman's release requires her to donate her kidney to the other.
The condition is alarming some experts, who have raised legal and ethical questions. Among them: If it turns out the sisters aren't a good tissue match, does that mean the healthy one goes back to jail?
Gov. Haley Barbour's decision to suspend the life sentences of Jamie and Gladys Scott was applauded by civil rights organizations and the women's attorney, who have long said the sentences were too harsh for the crime.
The sisters are black, and their case has been a cause celebre in the state's African-American community.
The Scotts were convicted in 1994 of leading two men into an ambush in central Mississippi the year before. Three teenagers hit each man in the head with a shotgun and took their wallets — making off with only $11, the sisters' attorney said.
After 16 years in prison, Jamie Scott, 36, is on daily dialysis, which officials say costs the state about $200,000 a year.
Barbour's freeing of Miss. women — political move?
Barbour agreed to release her because of her medical condition, but 38-year-old Gladys Scott's release order says one of the conditions she must meet is to donate the kidney within one year.