The Fruit of All My Grief by J. Malcolm Garcia

The Fruit of All My Grief by J. Malcolm Garcia

Author:J. Malcolm Garcia
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: journalism, gulf war syndrome, agent orange, dale maharidge, working class, best american essays, essay collection, capitalism, american immigration, race in america, political essays, current events, medical marijuana, oil spill, american imperialism, american poverty, the great recession, iraq war, american dream, imperialism, bankruptcy, injustice, poverty, immigration, american empire, environmental disasters, incarceration, human rights, social justice, government, civil rights, justice, political books, public health
ISBN: 9781609809546
Publisher: Seven Stories Press
Published: 2019-09-24T18:00:00+00:00


What Happens After Sixteen Years in Prison?

They still talk about it here in Hillsboro.

How the Scott sisters, Jamie and Gladys, were arrested for organizing an armed robbery they say they had no part in. How Jamie, twenty-one, and Gladys, just nineteen, neither one of whom had a police record or even a speeding ticket, were each given two consecutive life sentences for the crime, far more time than the boys who were either their accomplices or who falsely claimed to be. How no one can even say how much money was stolen, if any. Some accounts put the figure at eleven dollars.

After serving sixteen years, the sisters were released in the first few days of 2011. Governor Haley Barbour suspended their sentences on the condition that Gladys donate a kidney to Jamie, whose own kidneys had begun to fail a year earlier. She has not done so yet.

The Scott sisters live in Pensacola now. They moved there to be with their mother, Evelyn Rasco. Miss Evelyn herself lies critically ill in a local hospital, her left leg amputated as a result of her own battle with diabetes.

Sixteen years I fought, she mumbles in her sleep. I’m tired.

But in Hillsboro, not that much has changed since Jamie and Gladys were sent to prison. The town is little more than a dot on the map seven miles outside Forest, Mississippi, a slightly bigger dot just off Interstate 20. Turn off the interstate onto Highway 35, following the road through the woods where, on starless nights, the darkness seems as deep and still as the ocean, and after a few miles you’ll drive past a few motels and a Kentucky Fried chicken before you reach the mini-mart where Jamie’s car broke down the night the crime took place. The girls caught a ride there with two boys who later said the sisters had led them into an ambush.

The Scott sisters’ father, James Rasco, was born and raised in Hillsboro. The family goes way back. Black children here are taught to stay out of trouble. Keep your head down and just get on with your life. At night, enjoy yourself, but stay in the house. And when you’re out, hope no police get behind you. Looked like you swerved, they’ll say. What’re you all dressed up for? Getting into something? You know so-and-so? Don’t let the police pin nothing on you, people here say. You’ll end up like Jamie and Gladys.

Jamie and Gladys awaken before dawn in Pensacola. Miles apart from each other, each in her own home, hearing nothing but the sound of their own breathing. In prison, they were surrounded by hundreds of other women. Hundreds of women watching one another, talking all at once, almost touching. Someone would be screaming over the intercom and someone else would be blasting the TV and at the same time there’d be showers hissing and the microwave beeping and a dozen toilets flushing. Noise bouncing off concrete. There were women who raped other women. There were fights.



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