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September 9, 2012

Should states help death row prisoners donate their organs?

The title of this post is prompted by this piece appearing in today's New York Times under the headline "Considering Death Row for Organs."  Here are excerpts:

Christian Longo, a death row inmate, [has] started a campaign to allow the condemned to donate their organs. Mr. Longo argued that a new execution protocol that many states — including Texas — have adopted leaves inmates’ organs viable for transplantation.

“While I can potentially help in saving one life with a kidney donation now, one preplanned execution can additionally save from 6 to 10 more lives,” Mr. Longo wrote in a plea that Oregon officials denied.

No state allows death row inmates to donate their organs. Although Texas recently abandoned a three-drug cocktail in favor of a single-drug method for execution, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said it did not intend to change its policy. There are 11,000 Texans on the organ transplant waiting list.

Criminal justice and medical experts say that the idea of recovering organs from willing convicted murderers is fraught with moral, ethical and medical challenges that make it unlikely to ever be an option. “It’s complicated in ways that are very messy and very fuzzy,” said Richard C. Dieter, executive director of the nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center....

The prospect of death row organ donation, though, prompts several questions, said Dr. David Orentlicher, a co-director of the Hall Center for Law and Health at Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law. Is an inmate giving free and informed consent, or is he hoping to win favorable treatment? Would a donation affect jurors in murder cases who are weighing the death penalty versus life sentences? Or prosecutors deciding whether to seek the death penalty? Or governors deciding whether to grant clemency?

There is also the possibility that allowing death row organ donation could lead jurors to issue more death sentences, Dr. Orentlicher said. For prospective recipients, there are emotional and mental considerations, he added. “People might say, ‘Gosh, I’m walking around with the organ of a murderer,’ ” he said. “It may be irrational, but I suspect that’s lurking there.”...

Even if all the moral, ethical and medical questions could be adequately addressed, he said, the yield of usable organs from death row inmates is likely to be small. “I think there are avenues other than prisoners that the effort expended toward trying to increase donation would be better spent,” Mr. Rosson said.

September 9, 2012 at 10:57 PM | Permalink


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Sure, states should help death-row inmates donate their organs--so long as it's assuredly not the usual delaying-tactic hustle and provided that the aforementioned inmates actually do end up getting executed.

Posted by: alpino | Sep 10, 2012 1:15:36 AM

I have addressed the problem of the great shortage of organs for transplant.

1) The Kelo decision has dozens of references to property, not one says, real property, so it fully applies to chattel. A member of the Volokh Conspiracy agreed to this point. Therefore all cadaver organs can be seized under Kelo.

2) Laws enacted to have presumptive donation in several countries and US jurisdictions result in massive increases in transplants, like 10 fold. One was the donation of corneas in Florida. Same effect. So instead of checking off for the donation of organs on a driving license, the check off should be to refuse donation.

3) Crush superstitious families that feel removal of organs from a cadaver hurts the loved one in any way. Arrest them in the hospital if they make a scene. As an aside, this feeling applies to doctors. One nearly beat up the Supremacy, yelling, you are not going to take my mother's eyes. Like take it easy, Doc.

4) The donation of organs by condemned people passes all utilitarian tests as long as the jury and judges are not rigging their decisions to harvest organs. It is also a form of redemption that is very meaningful for the condemned. Naturally, we are in a horrid, waking nightmare, lawyer Twilight Zone, and nothing will be allowed.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 10, 2012 6:13:13 AM

alpino --

Bingo. The one thing you can be sure of is that this proposal, if implemented, will produce yet more litigation and delay -- which is, of course, the central reason it's being floated.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 10, 2012 8:52:40 AM

If it's a Farfisa, NO! A Hammond B-3 on the other hand is worth dying for, so YES!!

Posted by: Lou Boogaloo | Sep 10, 2012 9:20:29 AM

Delirious Alpino and Suppie rides again.
The intriguing fact about hangmanfriends is how little they know about capital punishment.

Posted by: Claudio Giusti | Sep 10, 2012 11:00:08 AM

I doubt anyone can say with confidence what the result of this campaign would be. Has anyone else read "The Jigsaw Man" by Larry Niven? That shows the worst-case scenario (or best-case, depending on your politics). There organ donation from death row inmates leads to a death penalty regime Soronel would consider excessive.

Posted by: Paul | Sep 10, 2012 11:21:02 AM

Claudio, I know plenty about the death penalty. You just spread the usual distortions and outright lies because you know that an argument that capital punishment is wrong under all circumstances just won't fly with most people.

Posted by: alpino | Sep 10, 2012 6:24:19 PM

I don't care of majority in moral issues

Posted by: Claudio Giusti | Sep 13, 2012 8:11:12 AM

Claudio, are you so opposed to the death penalty that you think it is morally justifiable to lie and distort the truth in order to abolish it?

Posted by: alpino | Sep 13, 2012 12:37:06 PM

Alpino, please stop idiocy!

Posted by: Claudio GiustiI | Sep 14, 2012 1:27:34 PM

You haven't answered my question: are you so opposed to the death penalty that you think it is morally justifiable to lie and distort the truth in order to abolish it?

Moreover, "please stop your idiocy" would've been correct since "please stop idiocy" means to stop all idiocy in general--something I readily admit that I am incapable of. If you're going to repeatedly post on an English-language blog, you might want to take some English lessons because you really come off sounding like a buffoon and convincing absolutely no one of anything. And just one more point: the use of multiple question marks and exclamation points comes off as exceedingly juvenile in English and is best avoided.

Posted by: alpino | Sep 15, 2012 10:17:56 PM

alpino, vaffanculo!

Posted by: Claudio GiustiI | Sep 16, 2012 1:15:14 PM

Claudio, I daresay I am utterly shocked by what you've told me, in Italian, to do to myself. Luckily for me what you've suggested is an anatomical impossibility.

By the way, you have yet to answer my question: are you so opposed to the death penalty that you think it is morally justifiable to lie and distort the truth in order to abolish it?

And Claudio, please, don't lower yourself again by engaging in such base vulgarity.

Posted by: alpino | Sep 16, 2012 7:13:38 PM

alpino, again you are accusing me to be a liar, and again you should .... Those who distort the truth are the hangman friend like you

Posted by: Claudio GiustiI | Sep 17, 2012 3:22:42 AM

Claudio, you should have written it this way: "again you are accusing me of being a liar, and again you should...those who distort the truth are the hangman's friend like you.

Why don't you learn some more English before posting here, and maybe some basic punctuation as well?

You should also refrain from using vulgarity as it does not befit a man of your stature.

Posted by: alpino | Sep 19, 2012 12:56:28 AM

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