Dr Jail and Mr Bail

South Carolina might just be going into the organ business. At least if the current legislation being considered by the State legislature is passed. According to the Sun-Sentinel

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 bill’s chief sponsor, Democratic Sen. Ralph Anderson [RA@scsenate.org]. “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.

And perhaps most interesting. The text of the bill itself doesn’t seem to mention any sentence reduction at all. That isn’t part of the law although it might be included in sentencing guidlines or whatever.

Sean Aqui argues out that this is a rather slippery slope and points out that the organs of people executed* in China are regularly harvested (his word) for use. He continues

I’d be very, very wary of taking this step. I don’t have a problem in principle with compensating donors. The problems are all practical. It only works if the entire transaction is fully transparent, and everyone is fully informed and truly a volunteer. The possibilities of abuse are high. And it exploits a vulnerable population. It’s one thing to donate a kidney or bone marrow, even though both operations have their risks. What about muscle tissue or nerves or things like that? Suddenly we’re in a grey area where we’re mildly crippling prisoners. Do we really want people to start thinking about what body part they’re willing to trade for freedom?

Um Sean. Wary? Slippery slope? Compensating Donors?

About compensation, there was an article recently about tsunami victims selling organs because they didn’t get enough help after the ocean destroyed their world. Will that be SC’s next move? Organ donation for state aid after hurricanes. (Let’s offer new homes to those in New Orleans if they just donate an organ.) Compensation? Donor? Isn’t that an oxymoron?

No. This is insane. Like something out of bad science fiction movie.

While legislators increasingly push for longer sentences and stiffer penalties, this kind of legislation will only hurt those members of the population least able to sustain it. Not only are there immediate risks involved in donating an organ, there are long term risks.

Should one of these prisoners later develop problems in the remaining kidney, it is unlikely they will be able to afford the necessary healthcare. With a prison record and the American heathcare system in the wonderful shape it is, how many of these people who go out on bail will be insured? They better not work at Wal-Mart. Of course the job opportunities for people on bail are just immense. Right?

And they better not stay in a Red State. Wouldn’t want these people to start sucking cash out of Medicare. They should have known better and stayed healthy in the first place. Americans do not pay taxes to cover the medical bills of lawbreakers. The American government is not there – um – to take care of it’s citizens right?

And remember[pdf], America has the highest per capita incarceration rate in the world.

That’s right. Apparently, the ‘Christian Nation,’ while policing world peace, has the highest rate of prisoners in the world. Congratulations.

That makes this not just a social issue but an economic issue. The prisons are too full (look at California) and cost too much. Therefore you need to empty the prisons. This legislation would offer prisoners bail using only body parts as bait.

Think about it. Is this about helping people or a bizarrely evil way to ease penitentiary bills while pretending to help others? How many of the SC legislators have organ donation cards? How many of the SC legislators have appeared in organ donation public service announcements?

I think this the latest installment in a government becoming increasingly dysfunctional. Cutting funding for crime prevention programs which leads to an increase in crime. We lengthen prison sentences which in turn requires larger prisons and increased prison funding. To lower the costs of incarceration because there are too many prisoners we offer bail for those willing to be cut up. And we still try to lower Medicare costs because all these prisoners are going to go right into insured employment. * sigh *

This is like a bad science fiction novel, Dr Jail and Mr Bail.

[Hat Tip: Justin Gardner/Moderate Voice]

*I would also point out that the bodies of those executed in China have also been shown in the ‘educational exhibition’ Body Worlds. From the International Herald Tribune

There are skinless cadavers sliced in two, tarred human lungs in glass cases, dehydrated brains you can touch. One corpse is posed as a soccer player, balancing on one foot and exposing the complex connection of bones, tendons and muscles
[…]
(After the German news magazine Der Spiegel reported that some of the “Body Worlds” corpses were Chinese execution victims, the show’s creator, Gunther von Hagens, said he had sought to avoid accepting such cadavers. “My orders have always been clear: no one who was sentenced to death,” he was quoted as saying last year. He added, however: “But I wouldn’t put my hand in the fire for it and say we weren’t perhaps given one or the other execution victim.”)

This has also been reported in the Daily Telegraph.

Did you buy a ticket. Did you go? Did you know? It’s a slippery slope alright.

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