The Kidney Condition

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour is granting early release to  two sisters serving life sentences for armed robbery under an unusual condition: One sister must donate her kidney to help the other. From the Washington Post account:

Barbour agreed this week to suspend their sentences in light of the poor health of Jamie Scott, 38, who requires regular dialysis. The governor said in a statement that 36-year-old Gladys Scott’s release is conditioned on her giving a kidney to her inmate sibling.

“The Mississippi Department of Corrections believes the sisters no longer pose a threat to society,” Barbour said in the 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. . . . Gladys Scott’s release is conditioned on her donating one of her kidneys to her sister, a procedure which should be scheduled with urgency.”

The Post reports that the deal has raised concerns from some medical ethicists.  At Balkinization, Jason Mazzone considers some of the constitutional aspects of Barbour’s bargain.