29 December 2010

What Would You Give Up To Get Out?

Should someone's parole be predicated on her donating a kidney to her sister?

That's what's happening in Mississippi.  The two sisters were convicted of armed robbery and have served sixteen years in prison for it.  Some have argued that they've been there much too long, as they were teenagers when they, with another teenager, ambushed two men whom they hit over their heads with guns.

For their troubles, the youngsters got $11.

Technically, Mississippi Governor Hayley Barbour indefinitely suspended the sentences of the two sisters.  An indefinite suspension is different from a commutation or pardon because it has conditions attached to it. If those conditions aren't met, the person with the indefinite suspension could be returned to prison.  However, according to reports, the sister who's donating her kidney volunteered to do so. 

Some would say this is a win-win situation.  However, as someone who wants to keep the government as far from her body as possible, this situation seems more than a little creepy to me.  Could a state actually mandate, say, an organ donation as a condition of release?  Or could it demand that someone to simply surrender some part of his or her body? How far is that from the Middle Eastern practice of chopping the hands off accused thieves?

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