Massachusetts has proposed a bill that incarcerated people can get a 60 to 365-day reduction in their sentences in exchange for donating organs and bone marrow. State representative Judith Garcia said this would “restore bodily autonomy to incarcerated folks.” Would it?
Though it doesn’t suggest a punishment for those who don’t participate, this is a slippery slope into exploitation and bribery.
It sounds more like the 60s-era studies that offered incarcerated people higher wages than the pennies they made with their prison jobs to participate in dangerous medical experiments. These dangerous studies have been denounced.
It was just in December 2022 that a university apologized for its scientists’ experiments on incarcerated men. In 2021, incarcerated patients filed grievances after being given a non-approved drug to treat COVID-19 without consent.
Black patients in general face significant disparities in receiving organ donations. Black people are disproportionately represented in the prison system. But this initiative won’t fix that problem because we don’t exist in a vacuum.
We exist in a country with anti-Black prison and medical systems.
Throughout history and today, incarcerated Black people have protested and fought for their bodily autonomy. This is a development we all need to keep an eye on.
After all, the rights they pillage from incarcerated Black people have already and will soon become under attack for all of us.