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March 9, 2007

Innovative organs for liberty proposal

This AP article ought to provide a great opportunity for weekend debate (and perhaps a bit of levity) concerning novel sentencing proposals.  Here are the details:

Inmates in South Carolina could soon find that a kidney is worth 180 days. Lawmakers are considering legislation that would let prisoners donate organs or bone marrow in exchange for time off their sentences. 

A state Senate panel on Thursday endorsed creating an organ-and-tissue donation program for inmates. But legislators postponed debate on a measure to reduce the sentences of participating prisoners, citing concern that federal law may not allow it. "I think it's imperative that we go all out and see what we can do," said the bills' chief sponsor, Democratic Sen. Ralph Anderson. "I would like to see us get enough donors that people are no longer dying."

The proposal approved by the Senate Corrections and Penology Subcommittee would set up a volunteer donor program in prisons to teach inmates about the need for donors. But lawmakers want legal advice before acting on a bill that would shave up to 180 days off a prison sentence for inmates who donate.

South Carolina advocates for organ donations said the incentive policy would be the first of its kind in the nation. Federal law makes it illegal to give organ donors "valuable consideration." Lawmakers want to know whether the term could apply to time off of prison sentences.

"We want to make this work, we really do," said Republican Sen. John Hawkins. "But I want to make sure no one goes to jail for good intentions." Mary Jo Cagle, chief medical officer of Bon Secours St. Francis Health System in Greenville, urged senators to find an allowable incentive. "We have a huge need for organs and bone marrow," Cagle said....

More than 95,300 Americans are awaiting an organ transplant, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. About 6,700 die each year.

March 9, 2007 at 04:06 PM | Permalink


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The utilitarian in me is heartened by this proposal, but the prosecutor in me is sickened.

Posted by: NCProsecutor | Mar 9, 2007 4:47:03 PM

I remember hearing about a case in which a convicted sex offender offered to be castrated in exchange for reduced punishment. The court, while appreciative of the defendant's willingness to help, held that such an arrangement would violate the Cruel and Unusual Clause of the Eighth Amendment. Assuming that I am recalling these details correctly, would the same constitutional issue apply here?

Posted by: Know-Nothing 1L | Mar 9, 2007 5:34:59 PM

I got a better idea. Why don’t we just pay poor people for their kidneys and lungs? After all, poor people want money just as much as incarcerated people want to not be in jail for their horrific crimes against society.

At least poor people could choose whether they want to watch TV on a small screen with two lungs or a big screen TV with one lung.

Also, wouldn’t it be hilarious if medical science later discovered that peoples’ brain patterns are determined by the biological content of their blood and organs, and the “righteous” people who received the “bad” organs start using marijuana, murdering, and molesting?

By “hilarious” I mean, “good law school final material.”

Posted by: S.cotus | Mar 10, 2007 10:43:10 AM

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