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Massachusetts Bill Would Allow Reduced Prison Time for Organ Donations

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A newly proposed bill would allow Massachusetts prison inmates to donate their organs or bone marrow in exchange for a reduced sentence.

The HD.3822 bill was filed in the State House last month. The legislation would “establish a Bone Marrow and Organ Donation Program within the Department of Correction and a Bone Marrow and Organ Donation Committee.” If approved and passed, incarcerated individuals could earn between two months to one year off their prison sentence in exchange for their donation. Carlos González presented the bill alongside Representative Judith García, who noted that the legislation would “establish the Massachusetts incarcerated individual bone marrow and organ donation program.”  

“We must provide every person who is incarcerated with the guidance of medical experts and advocates in order to ensure them the same rights and opportunities that every individual in Massachusetts has to save the life of their mother, father, brother, sister, child or friend,” González said. 

He added: “In my view, there is no compelling reason to bar inmates from this. One of our goals is to provide information and education on the disproportionate number of Blacks and Latinos dying while waiting for donors.”

The bill also notes that the Department of Correction will not receive commissions or financial payments for bone marrow donated by inmates, as paying for an organ is illegal in the U.S.

However, not everyone is thrilled with the proposal, believing it to be “exploitative” and “poorly considered.”

“It’s like you’re harvesting organs. It just doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t feel humane,” Project Turnaround founder Romilda Pereira told The Boston Globe. “You’re bargaining with vulnerable people over their time.”

Others believe inmates should be able to donate without the expectation of a quid pro quo. González says the possible incentives for organ donations are still open for debate.

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