A bill being proposed in Massachusetts may allow inmates to deduct a year off of their sentences if they donate their organs or bone marrow.
According to Fox 10, the bill, titled HD.3822, was filed on Jan. 20 by Massachusetts State House Representatives Carlos González and Judith A. García. Individuals who are eligible for reduced time could have 60 to 365 days knocked off of their sentences in exchange for their organs.
If the eyebrow-raising legislation is passed, a five-person committee would be created to oversee the eligibility and implementation process of the program. According to reports, the committee would be comprised of officials from the Department of Corrections. Members would include an “organ donation specialist from a state hospital, an advocate for organ donation, and an advocate for prisoner’s rights.”
The committee would also file annual reports on the number of organs donated and data associated with the lives saved using said organs.
Critics say the bill preys on the prison population
Supporters of the bill say it would “restore bodily autonomy to incarcerated folks” and help more people of color find a match for donors. But critics are already strongly opposing the bill, citing ethical and legal concerns.
“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, according to CBS News. “You’re bargaining with vulnerable people over their time.”
Writer Steven Donziger called the bill “macabre” and a sign of “escalating dystopia.”
Prison rates are declining for Black Americans
The news comes at a time where the nation’s imprisonment rate has seen a decline, especially among Black Americans. According to Pew Research, since 2006, imprisonment rates among Black people have decreased by 34 percent.
While the data is promising, Black Americans still face a number of disparities within the justice system. Black Americans are far more likely to be arrested and detained in prison. Black men have felt the brunt of the crisis.
At the end of 2018, there were 2,272 inmates per 100,000 Black men compared with 1,018 inmates per 100,000 Hispanic men and 392 inmates per 100,000 white men, according to the data.
If this bill is passed, it may only further complicate the odds stacked against people of color who are currently fighting to get out of the prison system.
Statistically, Black men have often received harsher prison sentences than white men who commit the same crimes. A 2017 study conducted by the U.S. Sentencing Commission found that Black male inmates received sentences 20.4 percent longer than white males.
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