Define That Term #195
Wednesday's New York Legal News Round Up

Pssst...I'll Give You a Reduced Sentence if You Give Me a Piece of--Your Liver?

South Carolina lawmakers have come up with the oh-so-brilliant proposal of allowing for an inmate's sentence to be reduced by 180 days should the inmate donate an organ.  As reported in this AP article, the legislation has been put on hold while it is determined if it is, oh, I don't know--legal:

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.

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.

Legalities aside, the very premise of this legislation is morally reprehensible.  To prey upon desperate inmates who would do just about anything obtain an early release from prison and  encourage them to undergo a major operation for prison sentence reduced by a mere three months is despicable and disturbing, to say the least.  And, I would argue that any agreement by an inmate to donate an organ under the proposed law would hardly be voluntary. 

And, practically speaking, how many inmates would even qualify to donate an organ as a living donor?  The requirements for blood donation, which I located after a quick Google search, are extensive, as can be seen here at the American Red Cross' web site.  One can only assume that the requirements for organ donation are equally as stringent , if not more so.

While I realize that I'm generalizing here, I would posit that the majority of the S.C. inmate population is not even eligible to donate an organ since arguably a good percentage of any prison population consists of past intravenous drug users, and those who are suffering from any number of diseases that are particularly evident in inmates, including Hepatitis, HIV and tuberculosis.   

In fact, according to the Red Cross' web site, in relation to Hepatitis exposure, those  "(p)ersons who have been detained or incarcerated in a facility (juvenile detention, lockup, jail, or prison) for more than 72 consecutive hours (3 days) are deferred for 12 months from the date of last occurrence." 

How that rule would apply to those currently incarcerated is unclear, but in any event, the benefits of this ethically questionable legislation would arguably be minimal. 

Personally, I'm amazed that this legislation was even proposed by a legislator, let alone endorsed by a S.C. Senate panel.  I mean seriously--your organ for early release from prison.  Is it just me or does it sound like the plot from some sort of demented Orwellian futuristic novel?

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