Prisoners Receiving Transplants

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As the prison population in America grows in numbers and increases in age, questions and debates about the allocation of medical resources to prisoners will grow in urgency. One issue which arises every so often is whether convicted felons, especially those who are awaiting capital punishment, should receive the same level of medical care as others in society - including scarce donor organs for the purpose of transplantation. As is often the case, the debate over whether a death row inmate should receive an organ transplant is not a single controversy, but rather several rolled into one. Being able to address the larger question requires disentangling the smaller questions and examining each in turn. What role, if any, should a person 's…show more content…
This represents an important shift because it eliminates many of the potential problems and dangers inherent in assessing the social and moral worth of other human beings. There is a long-recognized legal principle that while people who are not members of a community may deserve certain basic rights and privileges, they do not necessarily deserve all of the rights and privileges accorded to members. Thus, non-members have rights to life, liberty, free speech, etc., but they do not have the right to vote.
There is very little debate over whether this principle is valid in general, but there is quite a bit of debate over just what qualifies as basic, minimum rights and privileges which everyone should have, regardless of their membership or citizenship status. This is especially true when it comes to health care because there is such a wide range of possible treatments available to people.
Should prisoners receive only the very minimum necessary to keep them comfortable? Should expensive diagnostic and treatment options be made available to them? Where exactly should the line be drawn? If a prisoner does receive a lower standard of medical treatment and is later found to be innocent, what sort of responsibility do the state and society bear if he now leaves prison sicker than when he entered? Most people
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