Nancy Lockhart, M.J., is a non-attorney legal analyst with a sincere passion for researching and publicizing grave issues of injustice and wrongful convictions. Lockhart is most notably recognized for her work in the Scott Sisters case. Her relentless petitioning and long-term involvement in the controversial case played a major role in having Gladys and Jamie Scott released.
Lockhart created and spearheaded a grass-roots campaign along with Evelyn Rasco, the mother of the Scott sisters, in her quest for justice. The movement became a viral, global phenomenon via social networking and field organizing -- combining creative planning with online and off-line strategies.
Additionally, Lockhart launched the Compassionate Medical Release petition on behalf of Patricia Wright and others, as well as assisted in negotiating structured plea bargains. Wright, who was incarcerated in 1998 after being convicted of killing her husband, with no evidence or motive linking her to the crime, was diagnosed with fourth-stage terminal cancer while serving her sentence.
Lockhart holds a Masters of Jurisprudence from Loyola University Chicago School of Law. While attending, she supported herself by working as a consultant for the RainbowPUSH Coalition. It was at PUSH that she initially began championing the cause of the Scott Sisters.
Upon graduating from the university and leaving PUSH, Lockhart continued to seek justice on behalf of the Scott Sisters. Her efforts proved successful when Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour suspended their life sentence with the stipulation that Gladys, then 36, give Jamie, who was 38, one of her kidneys. The sisters were released in January of 2011.
From The G-Man recently conducted an exclusive interview with Lockhart to discuss her new book "Locked Up - What to Do When Your AZZ Gets Locked Up", a book that she believes will be crucially important to every American in the future.
G-Man: You were instrumental in the Scott Sisters case. Could you elaborate on why you decided to become a legal advocate for the sisters and their family?
Lockhart: Allow me to state this, emphatically. Advocating for the Scott Sisters was simply the right thing to do. I championed their cause because no one else had done so and apparently, no one else would. Mrs. Rasco - the mother of The Scott Sisters - was actually my first contact with the case. She fought tirelessly for 11 years (at that time) and after researching everything that she shared with me, I found that she told the truth about the trumped up charges. I realized that she was poor financially but, very rich in spirit and determination. Mrs. Rasco cared for their children when she could have easily placed them in foster care, all of which motivated me to research the case of her daughters.
G-Man: Did the case, ultimately, play a role in your decision to write the book?
Lockhart: Ultimately, the case did play a large role in my decision to write the book. I consistently receive numerous requests from individuals nationwide who unfortunately have criminal, legal issues. I was inspired by those numerous requests.
G-Man: What was the most difficult aspect of writing "Locked Up"?
Lockhart: The most difficult aspect of writing this volume was narrowing the information. What To Do When Your AZZ Gets Locked up is the first in a Locked Up series. I will continue to address those issues affecting poor people, and minorities. Justice is expensive - I am an advocate for lowering the bar on mass incarceration and raising the bar on legal education in our communities. With the appropriate education - negative statistics decrease.
G-Man: Without giving too much away, can you discuss one thing people should do immediately if they're jailed?
Lockhart: Never feel that you can negoitiate with the police. Keep your mouth shut! Talk only when your lawyer is present. This starts with being arrested and when jailed.
G-Man: Having spent many years as a legal analyst, what have you found to be the most disturbing and shocking element of the court system?
Lockhart: One case in particular. A young man (juvenile) was offered a plea deal to avoid a life sentence. No one was murdered. The bargain was 125 years. He is currently incarcerated. The shocking and disturbing elements for me currently are the egregious plea deals and excessive sentences.
G-Man: Do you address this issue in your book?
Lockhart: This issue is addressed, but will be elaborated on fully in the third volume of the series.
G-Man: To date, what experience or case would you cite as an absolute travesty of justice and why?
Lockhart: The Troy Davis case. There was absolutely too much doubt in Troy's case to murder him.
G-Man: Based on your knowledge and observations, regarding the rate of incarceration, do Black males or Black females face the greatest danger?
Lockhart: I believe that Black males face the greatest danger of mass incarceration although; there is a steady increase in Black women and both males and females of Hispanic decent.
G-Man: As you may be well aware, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide if juveniles should be prosecuted as adults. What is your view, particularly where heinous acts are concerned?
Lockhart: I believe that most juveniles (and adults) can be rehabilitated. On the other hand, I do not believe that proper rehabilitation exists in our country.
G-Man: The U.S. House of Representatives just passed a bill, S. 1867, which grants the president and U.S. military complete authority to arrest and indefinitely detain anyone suspected of being a terrorist or having links to terrorist organizations, including U.S. citizens, without due process. If this bill is signed into law by President Obama, would the information in your book still be applicable under the new law?
Lockhart: The information in the Locked Up series will be needed more than ever to assist in preventing wrongful convictions.
Lockhart is not an attorney, and those seeking legal services should contact their state bar association. Visit the links below if you would like to purchase a copy of Locked Up.