Massachusetts bill would allow inmates to donate organs for reduced prison time

BOSTON — A bill proposed by Massachusetts lawmakers would allow state inmates to donate their organs or bone marrow in exchange for reduced prison sentences.

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Bill HD.3822, sponsored by Democratic Reps. Judith Garcia, of Chelsea, and Carlos Gonzalez, of Springfield, would shave between 60 days and a year off a prisoner’s sentence if they donate, WFXT-TV reported.

The formal name of the proposed bill is an “Act to establish the Massachusetts incarcerated individual bone marrow and organ donation program.” If the bill passes, donating organs would be optional for inmates, according to the television station.

The act, if passed, would create a five-person panel to oversee the implementation of the program, made up of two Department of Corrections officials, an organ donation specialist from a state hospital, and two advocates focusing on organ donation and prisoners’ rights, according to Insider. The panel would determine eligibility standards and file reports of annual donations and “estimated life-savings associated with said donations.”

“There shall be no commissions or monetary payments to be made to the Department of Correction for bone marrow donated by incarcerated individuals,” the proposed text of the bill reads.

“It seems like something out of a science fiction book or horror story,” Kevin Ring, president of the nonprofit organization Families Against Mandatory Minimums, told Insider. “It’s just this sort of idea that we have this class of subhumans whose body parts (we) will harvest because they’re not like us or because they’re so desperate for freedom that they’d be willing to do this.”

Organ donation is currently allowed in U.S. federal prisons, but only if the recipient is an immediate family member, according to the BBC.

Latanya Henderson, a former inmate who founded All Things Art Inc., opposes the bill.

“It is extremely offensive. That is what I think about it,” Henderson said. “Like the nerve, the gall. Like, who could think of something like that?”

Rep. Russell Holmes is one of the five co-sponsors of the bill.

“Really the point to say ‘Hey, can you match with your family’ because you are very likely to have a match if you have a family member,” Holmes told WFXT. “The point of the bill initially was to make sure that we got as many folks involved with matching or finding a donor as possible.

“The components of the bill that I like the most the components are getting more black and brown folks more opportunities for bone marrow transplants.”