The New York Times reports today that two sisters imprisoned for a 1993 robbery have been released early on the condition that one donate her kidney to the other, who is suffering organ failure. Gladys Scott, 36, volunteered to give her kidney to Jamie Scott, 38. Controversy has arisen because in their early release from their double life sentences, Gov. Haley Barbour has required that Gladys Scott follow through with the promised kidney donation after release. Ethicists are questioning the governor's motives, who admits that in suspending their sentences rather than pardoning the women, his concern is to relieve Mississippi of the burden of Jamie's annual $200,000 dialysis bill. It is unclear who will pay for the kidney transplant, since the family does not have the means.
"The kidney donation was the sisters’ idea, and is supported by the N.A.A.C.P. and other civil rights organizations. But the unusual nature of the arrangement has been criticized by some medical ethicists.
Legal experts said that suspending a prison sentence contingent on an organ donation is highly unusual and may be unprecedented.
Jamie Scott requires dialysis treatment at least three times a week, and her health has been failing during the past few months....
Gov. Barbour said he had acted in part out of concern over Jamie Scott’s health, but also to relieve the state of the cost of her dialysis treatment, approximately $200,000 a year.
“The Mississippi Department of Corrections believes the sisters no longer pose a threat to society,” Mr. Barbour said in a Dec. 29 statement. “Their incarceration is no longer necessary for public safety or rehabilitation, and Jamie Scott’s medical condition creates a substantial cost to the state of Mississippi.”"
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