Mississippi sisters, Jamie and Gladys Scott, serving double life sentences for their roles in an $11 armed robbery will be released on condition that the younger sibling donate her kidney to her sister whose failing organs are costing the state a lot of money in dialysis treatment. This condition, proposed by the sisters themselves, comes at the end of a grassroots movement to have the sisters released from prison.

There seems to be something problematic with allowing an inmate to trade a vital organ for freedom. A gambler couldn’t tender the pink slip for his kidney to his bookie (assuming the debt were legal) as one would a car. Yet somehow this is washes with the Mississippi Governor.

Under Mississippi Code of 1972 §41-39-131 selling body parts within the Magnolia State:

(a)  Except as otherwise provided in subsection (b), a person that, for valuable consideration, knowingly purchases or sells a part for transplantation or therapy if removal of a part from an individual is intended to occur after the individual’s death commits a felony and upon conviction is subject to a fine not exceeding Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000.00) or imprisonment not exceeding five (5) years, or both.

It is interesting to note that the Revised Mississippi Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (UAGA), of which § 41-39-131 is a part, will be repealed on January 1, 2012. Whether the repeal is to make way for a new human organ law or to provide a new revenue stream for po’ folk is unclear. Regardless, the law is in effect at the time of Gov. Haley Barbour’s decision.

Separately, this goes to a question of morality, specifically: why didn’t Gladys fork over her kidney a long time ago? Two kidneys are great and all but most of the time she doesn’t need them both. Perhaps she was just waiting to use her organ as a bargaining chip or maybe she just never wanted to give Jamie that kidney. Either way, from a policy perspective do we really want inmates offering up body parts for shorter prison sentences?

Via the NYTimes.