Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

What Have We Become? Or Have We Always Been?

It is being reported that South Carolina is considering shaving up to 180 days off of jail sentences if prisoners donate their kidneys or bone marrow.

The funny line in all of this comes from Republican Sen. John Hawkins who is quoted as saying, "We want to make this work, we really do. But I want to make sure no one goes to jail for good intentions." Ironic. That's OK Senator. Just give a kidney, and you're scott free.

Let's talk about the U.S. prison population for a moment, and then revisit this proposal.

For starters, we have the largest prison population in the world with over 2 million people behind bars.* Black males have a 1 in 3 chance of going to jail in this country. Black males are the largest group represented in our prison population.

By some estimates, 650,000 people coming out of the prison system every year. Prisons are big business, a $40 bil. industry. There are counties in this country where prisons are the largest employer. These are largely rural communities who compete for the the prison the way other communities compete for automotive plants. Why?

Beyond employment, it adds to the local population. Prisoners are counted as residents in the community where they are housed. Think about how population statistics are used. They determine voting power-the number of representatives a district gets in state assemblies and at the federal level. So white rural areas can thank their largely black inmates (who can't vote) for their enhanced voting power while the largely black communities who have lost these prisoners see their voting power diminish, thus, disenfranchising black voters.

Population numbers are used for determining funding for various federal social programs. Again, black neighborhoods loose. It is, in effect a population transfer.

We warehouse these people for profit, not for social safety, not to rehabilitate them. And now, South Carolina wants to take these people who are predominately black, who have families who want them home, and you want to say, give us your kidney and we will give you freedom?

This is not how you ease over-crowding in your system. It is not how you rehabilitate a criminal. It is almost as bad as slavery. It is morally repugnant for starters. And it can't possibly be legal. The choice to give an organ is no choice if made under coercion. What are we? China? Russia?

*the source of much of this information can be found at Current TV from "One Nation Under Guard" produced for Seeds of Tolerance by Lucas Krost.


Raised By Republicans said...

So in the Southern Republican world view, stem cell research is "exploiting one human life to benefit another" but coercing a walking, talking prison inmate to "donate" organs is okeedokee. Just trying keep here folks.

Oh, and US West mentioned this but it bears repeating. In many (most?) states convicted felons cannot vote even after they've served sentences. Also, the people most likely to be sent to prison are least likely to vote. So we have a population that has no influence (or very very little influence) on elected officials.

One last thing. I'm pretty sure that the Republicans proposing this in South Carolina is a self described "Christian" who claims special moral authority with regard to legislation.

How do we stop these people? Simple. VOTE FOR DEMOCRATS IN 2008. We can't think that the problem was solved in 2006 and everything is fine now. We can't revert to our old habbits of not voting or talking ourselves into voting for useless Green candidates etc.

The Law Talking Guy said...

I agree with everything RBR said. I also once again notice how cheap and stupid Republicans are. Republicans think that rich people need financial incentives to act (tax cuts) but never think of financial incentives for others if it means their rich clients have to pay more (like paying teachers decent salaries).

If you want to encourage rather than coerce donations, why not offer prisoners $10,000 in cash, to be held in escrow for when they are released, if they want to join a donor match program and become successful?

What we really need to do is to make rehabilitation and reintegration possible. I would suggest that we make it much harder to refuse to hire former prisoners.

USwest said...

I would add that folks in the organ donor community do not approve of this program. They want organ donation be remain voluntary and to remain an act of charity. Thus even payment is somewhat frowned upon.

The same should hold for sperm, egg, and blood donation I would think. But we pay people for these things as well. Blood is a renewable resource as is sperm and egg. Removign them does no harm to the donor. Organs are another matter altogether. Give away a kidney and you are screwed if you end up with kidney faliure later in life.

Dr. Strangelove said...

One of the most horrifying human rights abuses of which China has been accused is harvesting organs from prisoners. I am stunned that even the fundamentalists would consider walking down that path.

In and of itself, being able to sell one's organs for cash or compensation is not loathsome to me. But when you realize those who are destitute or imprisoned would be faced with a nearly coercive incentive to "allow" themselves to be dissected and dismembered... now it its appalling.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Dr. S. writes, "I am stunned that even the fundamentalists would consider walking down that path."

Really? I'm not.