Some of you may recall that back in 2002 there was a fair amount of controversy surrounding the California Department of Corrections’ (DoC) decision to allow a life-saving, million dollar heart transplant for an inmate serving 14 years for armed robbery. The DoC reasoned that not doing so would violate the 1976 Supreme Court ruling that states it’s “‘cruel and unusual punishment’ to withhold necessary medical care from inmates.” The decision by the DoC raised an important question: Should prisoners get transplants ahead of law-abiding citizens?
Well, law-abiding citizens on the organ donor list didn’t think so…which is understandable. A violent criminal just got a new, healthy heart for free. And all he had to do was rob someone at gunpoint. Meanwhile, you, law-abiding-American-citizen-who-didn’t-commit-a-felonywill have to wait that much longer. The state of California is super-sorry for your situation and advises you to try and stay alive.
So what kind of medical coverage should prisoners get?
I can understand the argument that we don’t need to be in the business of letting a prisoner die from a life-threatening illness…if we can help it. But what if it’s not life-threatening—and it’s someone serving a life sentence without parole? Should federal tax dollars still pay for it?
The First Circuit Court of Appeals thinks so. Earlier today, They upheld an earlier ruling that ordered the state of Massachusetts to provide sexual reassignment surgery for a transgendered prisoner. The prisoner, Robert Kosilek, who now goes by Michelle, is serving a life sentence without parole for murdering his wife.
I’m more than a little conflicted about this decision. Gender confusion is a very real phenomenon for a small few, and I would never want to diminish what an incredible struggle it is for them…but at the risk of sounding insensitive, this court ruling IS COMPLETE DOG POOPY. I mean..where does it end? Plastic surgery has been known to have therapeutic effects; perhaps states would consider providing breast implants to alleviate depression.
Photo via Huffington Post