State lawmakers discuss a new bill that could lessen a prisoner’s sentence if they donate an organ

BOSTON — There’s a controversial bill on Beacon Hill. Inmates could get reduced sentences if they donate organs.

Massachusetts inmates looking to shave time off their sentences could one day get that opportunity. Some lawmakers have proposed Bill 3822 which would take 60 days to a year off their sentence if they donate bone marrow or an organ.

A formerly incarcerated inmate and now the founder of All Things Art Inc., Latanya Henderson can’t believe some lawmakers think it is a good idea.

“It is extremely offensive that is what I think about it like the nerve, the gull like who could think of something like that?” says Henderson.

Romilda Pereira was also formerly incarcerated and is now the founder of Project Turnaround. She says after spending time behind bars, both women worry about the poor medical treatment inmates will receive if they donate their organs.

“We’re to trust signing up as an organ donor when we’re at the hands of cruelty for a shorter sentence honestly it is probably the cruelest bill they put together,” says Pereira.

“What about the people who are going to perish during this time, they don’t make it through the operation,” says Henderson.

Rep. Russell Holmes is one of the co-sponsors of the bill.

“Really the point to say ‘hey can you match with your family’ because you are very likely to have a match if you have a family member. The point of the bill initially was to make sure that we got as many folks involved with matching or finding a donor as possible,” says Rep. Holmes.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in 2020 only 27.7% percent of blacks who were on the waiting list received an organ transplant compared to 47.6% of white people.

“The components of the bill that I like the most the components are getting more black and brown folks more opportunities for bone marrow transplants,” says Rep. Holmes.

Romilda and Latanya say lawmakers should have conversations with people impacted by the criminal justice system before creating bills like this one.

“I just feel like are we worth anything are we worth anything to you?” says Henderson.

“My organs, something that I need to live to survive we don’t ever know what could happen,” says Pereira.

Rep. Holmes says he will remove his name from the bill if the incentive portion of it remains because he says it de-humanizes the inmates.

If the bill passes, donating organs would be optional for inmates.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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