Image: Jamie Scott, Gladys Scott
Rogelio V. Solis  /  AP
Jamie Scott, left, and her sister Gladys Scott had their life sentences suspended and were released from a Miss. prison on the condition that one donate a kidney to the other.
updated 2/23/2011 5:02:04 PM ET 2011-02-23T22:02:04

A proposed kidney transplant that won two Mississippi sisters their freedom from prison can't take place until one quits smoking and they lose a combined 160 pounds.

Jamie and Gladys Scott had served nearly 16 years of their life sentences for an armed robbery when they were released from a sprawling prison in central Mississippi on Jan. 7. Gov. Haley Barbour granted Jamie Scott an early release because she suffers from kidney failure, but he agreed to let Gladys Scott go on the condition she follow through on an offer to donate a kidney to her sister.

Jamie Scott told The Associated Press on Wednesday that she needs to lose more than 100 pounds and that her sister has to shed 60 pounds before their doctors will even test them for compatibility. Doctors are also requiring Gladys Scott, a heavy smoker, to quit.

"I have to stay on her about it, I am helping her to stop smoking," said Jamie, who moved with her sister to Pensacola to be with their mother and children.

A personal trainer works twice a week with the sisters. They've also been taking aerobics classes.

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Jamie Scott, 38, said she hopes to have a surgery that will help her lose weight so she can get the transplant sooner, but her doctors don't know if she's healthy enough. Florida parole records list her at 5 feet tall and 254 pounds.

Gladys Scott, 36, is listed at 4 feet 9 inches tall and 184 pounds.

Barbour hasn't responded directly to numerous questions from The Associated Press about whether he'll send the sisters back to prison if the transplant doesn't happen. He's called questions about such a scenario "purely hypothetical."

Story: Freed sisters eager to start new life; 'It's like a dream'

When asked Wednesday about the sisters having to lose weight for the surgery, Barbour spokesman Dan Turner said: "That's a medical call, not something imposed as a condition of their release."

When he made the decision to let the sisters out, Barbour noted that Jamie Scott's dialysis was costing Mississippi about $200,000 a year. In granting Gladys Scott an early release, he attached the condition that she donate a kidney to her sister within one year.

Barbour's requirement alarmed some organ transplant specialists, who said it could violate ethical and legal rules. But Gladys Scott said it was her idea to donate the kidney, and she volunteered to do it in her petition for early release because she wants to save her sister's life.

The sisters' attorney, Chokwe Lumumba, said this week that he's hoping the sisters will be granted a full pardon. He's planning a demonstration April 1 to have supporters march through downtown Jackson to the state capital. An early release is not the same as a pardon or commutation. The sisters remain on parole.

Civil rights advocates had called for the sisters' freedom for years, saying their sentences were too harsh for the crime. They were convicted of participating in the robbery of two men on Christmas Eve 1993. Prosecutors said the women led two men into an ambush. The robbery didn't net much; amounts cited have ranged from $11 to $200.

The sisters claim they are innocent. Their supporters have also claimed that they received such long sentences because they are black. They were sentenced by a jury made up of five black jurors and seven white jurors. In Mississippi jurors have the option of sentencing defendants to life in prison, and the jury decided to do so in this case, court records said.

Jamie Scott said she and her sister have always struggled with their weight and got little exercise in prison. The doldrums of prison life led to their overeating, she said.

But she said they now have motivation to live from their children and grandchildren.

If Jamie Scott doesn't lose weight now, doctors have told her that she is putting her heart at risk.

Doctors haven't determined how they will pay for the transplant or the weight loss surgery. Jamie Scott said she is focused on losing the weight first and getting herself healthy for the procedures.

"I have my good days and I have my bad days," she said "Some days I can move around real good like there is nothing wrong with me and some days I can hardly get out of bed."


Mohr reported from Jackson, Miss.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Overjoyed Scott sisters released from prison

  1. Transcript of: Overjoyed Scott sisters released from prison

    LESTER HOLT, co-host: Two Mississippi sisters once sentenced to life in prison for armed robbery are

    free women this morning. But they were released under one unusual condition: One sister must donate a kidney to the other. NBC 's Thanh Truong joins us live outside the family's home in Pensacola , Florida . Thanh , good morning.

    THANH TRUONG reporting: Lester , good morning to you. Gladys and Jamie Scott arrived here at their mother's house in the early morning hours and enjoyed their first night's rest as free women, this after a whirlwind 24 hours for the sisters. After 16 years behind prison walls...

    Ms. JAMIE SCOTT (Freed From Prison): Yay! We're free! We're free!

    Ms. GLADYS SCOTT (Freed From Prison): We're free!

    TRUONG: ... Gladys and Jamie Scott rode away as free women.

    Ms. J. SCOTT: Hey.

    TRUONG: One of their first stops...

    Ms. J. SCOTT: I'm feeling good, I'm feeling great.

    TRUONG: ... Gloria 's Kitchen , with cheers and hugs waiting.

    Ms. G. SCOTT: Hey!

    Unidentified Woman: Oh.

    TRUONG: The restaurant and its patrons longtime supporters of the sisters, who they say were unjustly punished.

    Ms. J. SCOTT: I know, I love macaroni.

    Ms. G. SCOTT: I love...

    Offscreen Voice #1: Hello. When was the last time you

    had......home cooking?

    Ms. G. SCOTT: Oh, 16 years ago.

    Unidentified Man: Hello! I get the first hug.

    Offscreen Voice #2: Free at last , free at last ! Thank God almighty!

    TRUONG: Sentenced to life in prison for their role in a 1993 armed robbery that yielded only a handful of cash...

    Crowd: Free at last ! Free at last !

    TRUONG: ...the sisters were released on the condition, and Gladys ' plan, that Gladys donate a kidney to Jamie , who's suffering from kidney failure .

    Ms. G. SCOTT: I was going to give it to her anyway if I could give it to her in prison.

    Offscreen Voice #3: That's right .

    Ms. G. SCOTT: Didn't nobody had to release me because if they would've let me give it to her when she -- her kidney first failed, I would've gave it to her without a shadow of a doubt . I love my sister.

    TRUONG: The Scotts agreed to sit down with us on the condition we ask no questions about the crime. After all these years , what does freedom feel like?

    Ms. G. SCOTT: We just blessed, and it feels so good to be able to walk outside and feel fresh air.

    Ms. J. SCOTT: Like a breath that I have been waiting for so long to take that I was holding inside, and once we was out those gate, it just -- just like it's just a relief.

    TRUONG: From Mississippi , they drove to Pensacola , Florida , back to loved ones anxiously waiting for their return. For the first time in 16 years, it'll be a life without bars. And there's a lot ahead for the sisters. They face a life on probation, and there's also the question of will the sisters be a match for kidney donation and how they'll pay for it. They'll face all of that free women and also with