Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Prison: The Benefits are Great!

 

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 

There are 37 comments.

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  1. Bereket Kelile Member

    Does this mean that he/she will have to get transferred to a woman’s prison?

    • #1
    • January 18, 2014, at 4:29 AM PST
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  2. Sheepdog Inactive

    I’m a pretty big fan of the “punishment being cruel and unusual” party. I am also, however, an even bigger fan of not overstepping boundaries needlessly.

    With that in mind, I’m kind of confused about this whole issue. I’m all for letting a felon apply for a heart transplant and not suffer discrimination in the selection process. I’m also a-ok for letting felons spend their own money on whatever they want as far as medicine goes; within reason. Once we choose the punishment, even if I think it’s inefficient and ineffective, the case is done. You serve your punishment; if we aren’t noting that we’re punishing them specifically by jail as well as denying them other think-of-them-as-you-go services, then we don’t deny them the services.

    That’s not what this sounds like though; this sounds like you’re saying criminals are not only being bumped ahead of law abiding citizens, but that they’re also being subsidized for personal expenses in prison.

    Is that what you’re saying?

    • #2
    • January 18, 2014, at 4:39 AM PST
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  3. Jimmy Carter Member

    C’mon, let’s be honest Here. It ain’t “Gender confusion,” it’s mental aberration. 

    “Confusion” can be corrected with a simple explanation.

    • #3
    • January 18, 2014, at 5:25 AM PST
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  4. Crow's Nest Inactive

    That picture is creeping me out.

    • #4
    • January 18, 2014, at 5:31 AM PST
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  5. Jimmy Carter Member
    Crow’s Nest: That picture is creeping me out. · 12 hours ago

    Really.

    And are We paying for that freak’s make-up too?

    • #5
    • January 18, 2014, at 5:36 AM PST
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  6. Crow's Nest Inactive

    It puts the lotion in the basket….

    • #6
    • January 18, 2014, at 5:42 AM PST
    • 1 like
  7. A.D.P. Efferson Contributor
    A.D.P. Efferson Post author
    Sheepdog: 

    That’s not what this sounds like though; this sounds like you’re saying criminals are not only being bumped ahead of law abiding citizens, but that they’re also being subsidized for personal expenses in prison.

    Is that what you’re saying? · 1 hour ago

    Edited 1 hour ago

    If you consider a sex-change a personal expense, than yes, that is what I’m saying.

    • #7
    • January 18, 2014, at 6:04 AM PST
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  8. She Thatcher
    She

    I wrote about this sort of thing several months ago. I’m still not sure I understand a few of the comments that my post precipitated, but, like many others, I am conflicted about this issue.

    Since my post, though, there have been a number of stories in the news about the triage that is done for various reasons, even among the law abiding, of those who desperately queue for organ transplants every day.

    And I’m afraid I don’t see why, since prioritization is done for fine, upstanding citizens, convicted criminals shouldn’t go to the back of the line.

    • #8
    • January 18, 2014, at 6:09 AM PST
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  9. DocJay Inactive

    We will be out of money soon enough and this foolishness will end. Of course, dialysis after 80 will end also as well as a whole host of other cost saving measures.

    • #9
    • January 18, 2014, at 6:37 AM PST
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  10. D.C. McAllister Inactive

    I agree. Complete dog poopy, and that’s putting it nicely. Being humane is not the same thing as being indulgent. That’s a lesson liberals have repeatedly failed to learn. You know, I struggle with depression, should I demand that the state pay for a boob job for me? I don’t think so.

    • #10
    • January 18, 2014, at 7:36 AM PST
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  11. cdor Member

    “Kosilek took 22 years of pushing for this to get a procedure that can cost $7k. If that’s not going to the back of the line, I don’t know what is.” J of E @10

    No problem, all Kosilek has to do is save some moolah or appeal to you and or friends for the dough, wait tell he serves his time, and have the operation when he gets out of jail. Oops, I forgot. HE KILLED HIS WIFE!!. He may not get out of jail and his wife most certainly will never breathe another breath. Well then, toooo baaad for him, I guess.

    • #11
    • January 18, 2014, at 7:40 AM PST
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  12. Crow's Nest Inactive
    James Of England: If there were compelling medical evidence signed off on by a judge stating that your repeated suicide attempts and intense mental anguish could only be treated by a boob job, and the state was preventing you from earning the money to pay for it yourself, then I would support the state providing you with a boob job. You would not be entitled to “ideal care or to the care of your choice”, but you would be entitled to treatment.

    Sorry, James, you’re on your own on this one.

    • #12
    • January 18, 2014, at 7:42 AM PST
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  13. Kim K. Member

    I agree with DocJay that when the money runs out these decisions will *surprise* cease being made.

    In the mean time, it would be one thing if we knew for certain that sex reassignment surgery would CURE whatever condition this guy has. Or if we knew for certain that a boob job would CURE someone’s depression. But I have a feeling those kinds of conditions are not cured by going under the knife.

    • #13
    • January 18, 2014, at 8:56 AM PST
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  14. D.C. McAllister Inactive
    James Of England
    D.C. McAllister: I agree. Complete dog poopy, and that’s putting it nicely. Being humane is not the same thing as being indulgent. That’s a lesson liberals have repeatedly failed to learn. You know, I struggle with depression, should I demand that the state pay for a boob job for me? I don’t think so.

    If there were compelling medical evidence signed off on by a judge stating that your repeated suicide attempts and intense mental anguish could only be treated by a boob job, and the state was preventing you from earning the money to pay for it yourself, then I would support the state providing you with a boob job. You would not be entitled to “ideal care or to the care of your choice”, but you would be entitled to treatment. · 9 hours ago

    Do you think this argument will work if I tell my husband I need a new car to treat my depression? :)

    • #14
    • January 18, 2014, at 9:15 AM PST
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  15. Cato Rand Reagan
    Crow’s Nest
    James Of England: If there were compelling medical evidence signed off on by a judge stating that your repeated suicide attempts and intense mental anguish could only be treated by a boob job, and the state was preventing you from earning the money to pay for it yourself, then I would support the state providing you with a boob job. You would not be entitled to “ideal care or to the care of your choice”, but you would be entitled to treatment.

    Sorry, James, you’re on your own on this one.

    I agree Crow. James, you seem awfully certain to me. These are tougher questions than that. Law abiding people aren’t always able to access these procedures — sometimes for cost reasons, sometimes due to scarcity. I’m not saying I know the right answer, but I know it’s not a simple no-brainer question.

    • #15
    • January 18, 2014, at 9:32 AM PST
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  16. Douglas Inactive

    I’m about ready to see some nooses thrown over a tree branch. Not for the criminals, mind you. For the judges. The whole system is rotten to the core. And before anyone tries to be the voice of reason, save it. I meant what I wrote. They’re too damned powerful, and care exactly squat about what common citizens think. They have no moral grounding, and no common sense. This is what you get with lifetime appointments by elitists (with the support of their trial lawyer buddies) to the bench. “Screw you people, I’ve got this power for life”. I’m ready for torches and pitchforks. 

    • #16
    • January 18, 2014, at 9:59 AM PST
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  17. James Of England Moderator
    She:

    And I’m afraid I don’t see why, since prioritization is done for fine, upstanding citizens, convicted criminals shouldn’t go to the back of the line. · 

    Kosilek took 22 years of pushing for this to get a procedure that can cost $7k. If that’s not going to the back of the line, I don’t know what is.

    D.C. McAllister: I agree. Complete dog poopy, and that’s putting it nicely. Being humane is not the same thing as being indulgent. That’s a lesson liberals have repeatedly failed to learn. You know, I struggle with depression, should I demand that the state pay for a boob job for me? I don’t think so.

    If there were compelling medical evidence signed off on by a judge stating that your repeated suicide attempts and intense mental anguish could only be treated by a boob job, and the state was preventing you from earning the money to pay for it yourself, then I would support the state providing you with a boob job. You would not be entitled to “ideal care or to the care of your choice”, but you would be entitled to treatment.

    • #17
    • January 18, 2014, at 11:35 AM PST
    • 1 like
  18. flownover Inactive

    This post reminds me of Richard Speck, one of recent history’s worst killers. The picture below shows him in a cell with his boyfriend, the obvious results of his estrogen therapy, it doesn’t show the drugs they were doing during the interview. 

    speck.jpg

    This monster deserved to be executed as he killed the 8 nurses in their apartment, instead he got this. We should be ashamed that we disrespect the victims thoroughly . Only an unjust society can do this . There are agents of injustice throughout our legal and penal system . They exist to disrupt the laws we were given by the Creator . I guess that they must be evil therefore.

    I’m for bologna and pancakes, whatever you can slip under the cell door. A pail of water to clean , another to collect waste . That’s it.

    ( that is one ugly gal !)

    • #18
    • January 19, 2014, at 1:12 AM PST
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  19. James Of England Moderator

    It might help to think of one of the other areas where the government owes us a greater duty of care if we’re convicted criminals; that of violence. You and I have no right to have the government protect us from violence, even when the government recognizes a particular threat (say, putting down a restraining order to protect from it) and treats that threat with contempt, and even when the victims are children.

    When we’re in prison, though, the government gains an additional duty to defend us from violence. I disagree with Kennedy’s bull puckey decision that child rapists are protected from the death penalty, for instance, but when we do select criminals for punishment it should be on the basis of a jury trial presented with the full evidence and time to reflect, rather than an emotional judgment by deranged psychopaths acting on the basis of rumor and prejudice.

    • #19
    • January 19, 2014, at 4:34 AM PST
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  20. Cato Rand Reagan
    James Of England: It might help to think of one of the other areas where the government owes us a greater duty of care if we’re convicted criminals; that of violence. You and I have no right to have the government protect us from violence, even when the government recognizes a particular threat (say, putting down a restraining order to protect from it) and treats that threat with contempt, and even when the victims are children.

    When we’re in prison, though, the government gains an additional duty to defend us from violence. I disagree with Kennedy’s bull puckey decision that child rapists are protected from the death penalty, for instance, but when we do select criminals for punishment it should be on the basis of a jury trial presented with the full evidence and time to reflect, rather than an emotional judgment by deranged psychopaths acting on the basis of rumor and prejudice. · 58 minutes ago

    As usual, we may be talking past each other. My comment approached the question normatively. You seem to be talking about positive law.

    • #20
    • January 19, 2014, at 6:00 AM PST
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  21. James Of England Moderator
    Cato Rand f/k/a GFL
    James Of England:

    As usual, we may be talking past each other. My comment approached the question normatively. You seem to be talking about positive law. · 0 minutes ago

    I stand with the founding fathers on this one.

    Put trans issues to one side. Do you not believe that we have a positive duty to protect inmates from disease and each other? Do we have a duty to feed them?

    • #21
    • January 19, 2014, at 7:10 AM PST
    • 1 like
  22. Cato Rand Reagan
    James Of England
     

     

    I stand with the founding fathers on this one.

    Put trans issues to one side. Do younotbelieve that we have a positive duty to protect inmates from disease and each other? Do we have a duty to feed them?

    I do, but that wasn’t the question posed by this post. Heart transplants and sex reassignment surgery are extraordinary procedures. They’re not as commonplace or easily provided as lunch, and the duty we take on when we incarcerate someone cannot logically be limitless. I didn’t even stake out a position on whether the procedures discussed in this post should be included within that duty and I’m honestly somewhat torn on the question, but I do think it’s a hard question. You seem to think the answer’s obvious and it’s only that claim of certainty that I find odd. If nothing else, look at the rest of the comments on this thread. They run the gamut.

    While we’re on the subject, could you cite the historical text in which a founding father states that the failure to provide a heart transplant or sex reassignment surgery is cruel and unusual?

    • #22
    • January 19, 2014, at 7:30 AM PST
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  23. James Of England Moderator
    Cato Rand f/k/a GFL
    James Of England

    While we’re on the subject, could you cite the historical text in which a founding father states that the failure to provide a heart transplant or sex reassignment surgery is cruel and unusual? · 0 minutes ago

    Really, Cato? Do you do ask for Federalist papers references for email snooping on the NSA threads, too?

    Cato Rand f/k/a GFL
    James Of England
     

    I do, but that wasn’t the question posed by this post. Heart transplants and sex reassignment surgery are extraordinary procedures. They’re not as commonplace or easily provided as lunch, and the duty we take on when we incarcerate someone cannot logically be limitless.

    I think the heart transplant is a much more difficult procedure to justify. The cost was extremely high, and suitable hearts are a highly limited commodity. $7k, though, is a long way from a million dollars. Michelle’s spent 22 years in jail, for a cost of around half a million dollars, and is set to spend a while more there. Life transforming surgery won’t amount to a percent of her costs.

    • #23
    • January 19, 2014, at 8:26 AM PST
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  24. Cato Rand Reagan

    James, you were the one who brought the founding fathers into it, not me. I simply submit that neither of us can say how any particular founding father would have answered either of these questions, and that if presented with them they might even have differed among themselves just like the Ricochetti have on this thread.

    As to your second argument, I’m open to it. The $7K figure surprises me but I don’t really know what it costs. I note though that you now seem to be considering the costs, which puts us pretty near the same page.

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    • January 19, 2014, at 8:56 AM PST
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  25. Jennifer Johnson Inactive

    These developments are very disturbing. 

    • #25
    • January 19, 2014, at 9:04 AM PST
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  26. A.D.P. Efferson Contributor
    A.D.P. Efferson Post author
    Cato Rand f/k/a GFL: James, you were the one who brought the founding fathers into it, not me. I simply submit that neither of us can say how any particular founding father would have answered either of these questions, and that if presented with them they might even have differed among themselves just like the Ricochetti have on this thread.

    As to your second argument, I’m open to it. The $7K figure surprises me but I don’t really know what it costs. I note though that you now seem to be considering the costs, which puts us pretty near the same page. · 34 minutes ago

    I’ve done a couple presentations on gender confusion and reassignment surgery. If someone tells you they can do reassignment surgery for $7000, you should run. These surgeries are costly, largely because of all the ancillary surgeries and support. It’s not as simple as snipping and tucking. There are a host of other things that go into it. You are, after all, turning a man into a woman. No small feat.

    • #26
    • January 19, 2014, at 9:34 AM PST
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  27. James Of England Moderator
    A.D.P. Efferson

    I’ve done a couple presentations on gender confusion and reassignment surgery. If someone tells you they can do reassignment surgery for $7000, you should run. These surgeries are costly, largely because of all the ancillary surgeries and support. It’s not as simple as snipping and tucking. There are a host of other things that go into it. You are, after all, turning a man into a woman. No small feat.

    If I were seeking such surgery, you’re absolutely right that I’d be likely to be paying significantly more than that. There are surgeons that offer the procedure at that cost, though, and so long as they’re licensed surgeons, there’s no obligation for the state to find someone decent; even malpractice isn’t a problem so long as the state makes sure everyone is doing stuff they’re certified to do. A couple of people have noted that Kosilek is an ugly woman, even after a considerable period of hormone treatment; again, that’s fine. Kosilek is guaranteed treatment, not good treatment.

    Cato Rand

    I note though that you now seem to be considering the costs,

    See comments #10 and #13.

    • #27
    • January 19, 2014, at 10:04 AM PST
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  28. A.D.P. Efferson Contributor
    A.D.P. Efferson Post author
    James Of England
    A.D.P. Efferson

    I’ve done a couple presentations on gender confusion and reassignment surgery. If someone tells you they can do reassignment surgery for $7000, you should run. These surgeries are costly, largely because of all the ancillary surgeries and support. It’s not as simple as snipping and tucking. There are a host of other things that go into it. You are, after all, turning a man into a woman. No small feat.

    A couple of people have noted that Kosilek is an ugly woman, even after a considerable period of hormone treatment; again, that’s fine. Kosilek is guaranteed treatment, not good treatment.

     

    He is receiving treatment. He has access to the same psychiatric services other inmates have. If gender confusion was a problem for him, perhaps he should have thought about that before he murdered his wife. It is not cruel and unusual punishment to ask him to remain a man. It is the consequence of a choice he made. Now, if he wants to pay for it…. go ahead, he should get that $7000 procedure.

    • #28
    • January 19, 2014, at 10:31 AM PST
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  29. James Of England Moderator
    A.D.P. Efferson
    James Of England
    A.D.P. Efferson

    He is receiving treatment. He has access to the same psychiatric services other inmates have. If gender confusion was a problem for him, perhaps he should have thought about that before he murdered his wife. It is not cruel and unusual punishment to ask him to remain a man. It is the consequence of a choice he made. Now, if he wants to pay for it…. go ahead, he should get that $7000 procedure. · 5 minutes ago

    Did you not read the descriptions of her struggle with the issue prior to killing her first wife? She cannot earn the money and ability to get the surgery while she is in jail.

    The treatment she had received was insufficient. The treatment she is now promised is still not luxury; she was refused electrolysis after her initial electrolysis sessions were halted prematurely, but the view of the court’s doctors is that the imperfect treatment, including the surgery but not the electrolysis, is still sufficient. I don’t see grounds on which to dispute their factual finding.

    • #29
    • January 19, 2014, at 10:59 AM PST
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  30. James Of England Moderator
    Cato Rand f/k/a GFL
    Crow’s Nest

    Sorry, James, you’re on your own on this one.

    I agree Crow. James, you seem awfully certain to me. These are tougher questions than that. Law abiding people aren’t always able to access these procedures — sometimes for cost reasons, sometimes due to scarcity. I’m not saying I know the right answer, but I know it’s not a simple no-brainer question. ·

    Law abiding people have no positive right to medical treatment, food, or anything else. It is only when the state prevents us from gaining access to necessities that it gains this responsibility for our lives. We were providing federal medical care to inmates long before it was provided to the poor (1903); that preference isn’t a new thing.

    I agree with Flownover that we should have more executions; I also tend to favor long sentences. I’m not a fan of the Kennedy case law on almost anything, but for the Eighth Amendment seems to bring out the worst in him (for obvious reasons; it appears to present him with a blank check to legislate his inner poet’s urges). Medical care predates Kennedy, though.

    • #30
    • January 19, 2014, at 11:29 AM PST
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