A new bill proposes prisoners trade their organs for shorter sentences
A newly proposed law would let prisoners in Massachusetts exchange their organs for less time in prison.
Under HD.3822, a law that was introduced to the State House last month, prisoners who give bone marrow and organs may have their sentences cut by two months to a year.
What is the newly proposed bill, HD.3822?
The Massachusetts Department of Correction (MADOC) would establish an organ and bone marrow donation program under the proposed law. As well as including MADOC representatives, the program would also be run by organ donation experts and defenders of the rights of those imprisoned.
Additionally, the Department of Correction would not profit from donations; instead, the expense of donations would be borne by the institutions that would benefit.
One of the lawmakers behind the initiative, Carlos González, told Boston.com in an email that he was partly motivated by a close friend who needs dialysis three to four times a week while he waits for a kidney donation.
"He's a father of three children and is in stage four of kidney failure," González said, adding, "I love my friend, and I'm praying through this legislation that we can extend the chances of life for him and any other person in a similar life-or-death situation."
He also added, "one of our goals is to provide information and education on the disproportionate number of Blacks and Latinos dying while waiting for donors,” highlighting that individuals of these backgrounds had a higher chance of developing a variety of comorbidities.
He argues that widening the pool of possible donors is an efficient strategy to raise the possibility that such patients would receive vital care.
Is incentivizing the sale of body parts possible?
However, not all are impressed with the proposal. Some, particularly ethicists and supporters of prisoners' rights, described it as "unethical and depraved."
Michael Cox, executive director of the prison abolition organization Black and Pink Massachusetts, which educates LGBTQ and HIV-positive prisoners on their rights, commented to the media outlet that "they're a marginalized group in society, highly stigmatized and extremely vulnerable."
"And so to incentivize the selling of your body parts in exchange for the most precious commodity in the world — which is time on this Earth and your freedom — was just so appalling."
Additionally, the National Organ Transplant Act forbids the exchange of a gift for "valuable consideration"; therefore, the newly proposed bill also poses legal issues.
That said, there has been some discussion about the possibility of advocating a voluntary organ and tissue donation program that enables inmates to donate without receiving any compensation. Could this make all the difference? Well, the debate is ongoing, given that the proposed legislation is still in its early stages.