In Massachusetts, inmates may soon have the chance to reduce their sentences by up to one year in exchange for bone marrow or organ donations, according to a new bill proposed by State Reps. Carlos Gonzalez and Judith Garcia, both Democrats.
The bill, HD. 3822, requires the state commissioner for the Department of Corrections to establish a bone marrow and organ donation program for incarcerated individuals. Successful donation would lead to a sentence reduction of between 60 days and one year.
Rep. Gonzalez has said he hopes the bill would close racial disparities for Blacks and Latinos.
“Broadening the pool of potential donors is an effective way to increase the likelihood of Black and Latino family members and friends receiving life-saving treatment,” said the Miami Herald, quoting Gonzalez.
Rep. Garcia has said the legislation’s goal is to “address health inequities” of “Black and brown communities,” and that it would “restore bodily autonomy” to incarcerated individuals.
However, the bill has been met with criticism from progressives and prison abolitionists, who say it is coercive and predatory to a group without autonomy, and that it does not guarantee an individual’s right to donate without a bribe, Fox News reported.
Michael Cox, executive director for Black and Pink Massachusetts, said the bill was “unethical and depraved.”
The bill clarifies costs will be covered by “the benefiting institutions of the program and their affiliates” and no payments or commissions will be made to the Department of Corrections “for bone marrow donated by incarcerated individuals.”
But it is questionable whether the bill would comply with existing laws, such as Section 301 of The National Organ Transplant Act, which prohibits the exchange of organs for transplantation for “valuable consideration.”