Denial of Life-Support Treatments for Death-Row Inmates

In the discussion of "social worth" with regard to the allocation of scarce resources, there is a specific example which might be added to consider. At least one State is considering legislation which would deny life supporting medical treatment for those convicted persons who have been sentenced to die. This might prevent a convict on death-row from receiving a kidney transplant, for example. However, the legislation potentially also might prevent that same convict from receiving kidney dialysis treatments, without which the convict might die before formally executed. What is just and fair for the convict and for society? Does being a death-row convict mean loss of the right to the preservation health and life before the official death sentence is carried out? Should prison physicians tolerate such penal requirements or do they have a duty to preserve the health of their convict-patients? Is it fair that a convict on death-row gets a scarce resource while some person outside of prison is denied that resource? How should a sick death-row convict be treated?

Here is the question:

Is it ethical and just to deny a convict, sentenced to die, life sustaining treatment before formal execution?

If you have an answer (or another question), click HERE and e-mail me a response.

Date: Tue, Jun 15, 2004 11:09 AM From: jovellesfight@yahoo.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

So this is a legal matter and not a human one? Do any of you understand that there are innocent people on death row? Just let them die...doesn't that defy the legal process if that inmate has not exhausted all of his appeals? Have any of you actually been involved in a death row case or know anyone who has? How, exactly, in this country do we bill ourselves as God and then condemn those in other countries for killing each other for hundreds of years? Gee, don't we feel superior? Jovelle

Date: Thu, May 6, 2004 1:55 PM From: Jeritococa@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I want the deathrow inmates to go into the war in Iraq, why should we spend the money to house them, give them dental care, medical care. This money is being used without my concent. I give a lot of money to the government and so did a lot of other people. This money is for my retierment. With the ratio of kids being born today to the number of people who will be of the retierement age is not going to support the money needed to serve the retirered people. The ratio of kids being born to what it was when I wan born into a family of 11; is 1-1/2 per family how are they going to support us? The money is being used now on deathrow inmates. Millions of dollars is being wasted on them, the money me and my brothers and sister will need for retirement. We have worked hard for our future not the deatrow inmates. Please send a reply as soon as possible for I need this for a class discussion to support my Idea of sending inmates to the front lines of the war. I served the United States Navy in 1975.

Date: Mon, Mar 15, 2004 8:00 AM From: kbrooks2@kumc.edu To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I believe that those who are sentenced to death should not be considered to receive life-support treatments. The courts have already decided this person has committed an act that was horrible enough to deserve death, why are we even questioning if we should intervene to save their life? Many times life-saving treatments deal with scarce resources whether it is a transplant or a pint of blood, and we should handle with them as such. There are criteria that each recipient must meet in order to receive a transplant: this includes being a non-smoker to receive a lung transplant, being a non-alcoholic to receive a liver transplant, and so on. This criterion is saying that if you are given a new organ you should be in the right conditions to take care of it. Wouldn't a person that is going to be executed already fail the criteria? Money should also be taken into consideration. This type of medical care is very expensive and so is execution. Should the tax payers be stuck paying for both of these expenses? Absolutely not! This money can be spent in much more valuable places.

Date: Tue, Mar 9, 2004 7:15 PM From: khmaio@earthlink.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com

It is absolutely imperative that we keep a person alive until we are ready to kill him/her. Similarly, anyone with a psychiatric condition that renders them unable to know we are going to kill them should be medicated to appear normal, and then killed. This is a legal process, not a human one. Harold A. Maio

Date: Thu, Feb 26, 2004 7:31 AM From: swedes@rangebroadband.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

If it a differance of 1sec-or 100 years he should get the sentence he was given.because I believe that real punishment is watching the tick his life away. I can't comprehend the never ending fear that will never stop for them.

Date: Wed, Feb 11, 2004 3:14 PM From: beargirl21@yahoo.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I was looking on line about the "Cooper" case here in Cali. and I came across your question. This is my first response: LET THEM ALL DIE! WHO CARES! I don't want my tax dollars going to save some piece of crap in prison when a up-standing person not in prison could use the FREE medical care. They don't deserve anything. None of them. They are worthless, thats why they are in cage.

2nd. Response: We have more people behind bars today than ever, and than in any other country. We are not tough enough. We are too worried about "human rights". What about the Victims of these animals? When do they get justice? Prison will never compare to what they did to get there. So NO, let them starve to death, let them rot in hell. Prison should not be "home" or fun it should be hell on earth and its just not!

Date: Sat Nov 15, 2003 12:48 AM From: LivnPinkwMaryKay@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Although I do feel bad for some of the conditions the men and women on death row live with, I do not feel it is appropriate to give these people transplants or other life sustaining medical attention. They have been given a death sentence. Whether death comes at the hands of the state or nature, the sentence is being carried out. We have children (and other law abiding citizens) on lists that have no ends to them waiting for an organ that may never come for them in time to save their lives, yet there are some who want to give one of those desperately needed and too few healthy donated organs to an inmate who is going to die within a few short years anyway is preposturous. Save the life saving measures for those who really have a chance in life and not someone who is under a daily threat of death.

Date: Sun, Nov 2, 2003 10:26 PM From: heath_man@earthlink.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com

As a heart transplant recipeant of 2-12-01, i agree that a death row inmate should be given the same chances of life as anyone else would, only because all organ transplant recipents have to match the same biology requirments as the donor. However, if there is a more deserving recipeint on the wating list, then the inmate should be disregarded in that case, and only in that case. Tax payers pay for the health of a inmate while in prison, so the costs of the transpantation surgery would be minimal to tax payers.

While I was in the hospital recovering from my surgery, there was a inmate from folsom state prison in southern california, our family noticed that even though the prisoner was in prison,.he too was a human being and was experincing the same situations as anyone else would have. Also, its a great way for young doctors to practice without a great loss to society.

Date: Sun, Oct 26, 2003 9:11 PM From: JQM1@sympatico.ca To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I just cannot believe that this is even a topic for discussion. To consider ANY kind of medical treatment for these pieces of human gelp but constantly wonder if all those piss-ass, do-gooders out there ever bother to read the actual nature of the crimes these monsters commited. Rights? Cut the crap and let's just get rid of this vermin. 21> DoktorMo@aol.com 8 AM M

Date: Mon, Sep 29, 2003 7:54 PM From: CSowaRun1@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

All I have to say is that, those who were sentenced to death,were done so for a reason. If, while waiting for their execution nature intervenes and beats us to it, than so be it. Death-row was not named "death-life-death" row. I don't even agree with capital punishment, however I do agree with nature. I do not think such valuable resources should be wasted on the hopeless deviants of our society.

Date: Thu, Aug 7, 2003 8:33 PM From: ROARK557@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Yes, it is just for a death row inmate to not receive life supporting treatments. This person has committed a crime in which the Judge and jury saw horrible enough to be sentenced to death. If the inmate who is on death row has taken another life, that person gave up their right to live. If God sees fit to take their lives by any other means before formal execution so be it. This is my opinion as a person and an American you do the crime you do the time and pay the ultimate price for the wrong that person has done. Thank You

Date: Thu, Jun 12, 2003 1:58 PM From: jkpal56@msn.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I think that a death row inmate should not be able to receive an organ transplant of any kind. You have to look at the question of " Why are they on death row?" The reason people are sentenced to death row is because they murdered an innocent victim. It would be like killing their victim again if we gave the criminal a chance to live a life that they took in cold blood. I don't understand why this is even an issue. Any person who takes the life of another individual does not deserve the chance to recover from any type of disease brought upon them. It is Carma and Fate that gave them the deadly disease and they deserve the long painful death that they might inccur. Everything happens for a reason and we have to let fate play it's course.

Keri, Eugene, Oregon

Date: Mon, Jun 9, 2003 10:28 PM From: aznguy_85@yahoo.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

When it comes to a sensitive topic such as the death sentence and specifically if it is ethical to deny a convict, sentenced to die, life-sustaining treatment before formal execution. Some of the responses given to this question have portrayed convicts as lesser persons. Yes, I realize that they have done some heinous acts to be sentenced to die, but we have to realize that the bottom line is that they are indeed human, so thus ETHICALLY, it is wrong to deny ANY person the right to receive life-sustaining treatment. However, ethical and practical are two distinctly different entities. It is not very practical to give life-sustaining treatment to someone who is sentenced to die (Iím specifically talking about people who are sentenced to die immediately or relatively soon) over a person who is not sentenced to die. The bottom line: It is not ethical to deny a convict, sentenced to die, life-sustaining treatment before a formal execution, but it is practical to deny that person the treatment (only if there is an alternate person for the treatment to go towards). Sadly, we live in a society where decisions cannot ALWAYS be made off conscience. Decisions need to be practical. Who will benefit the most out of something while being able to bring about those benefits?

Date: Mon, Apr 14, 2003 2:15 AM From: ronieskola@hotmail.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I'm not an expert on this subject, or ethics at all, but i personally think that they either should be left to die and the organ they would need either frozen, or given to someone who really needs it, or then when a death-row inmate is diagnosed with the problem, they should be moved ahead on the execution schedule, thus eliminating the "slow and painful death" because they don't have a functioning organ, i repeat though that i'm not an expert on this subject, i think that if someone is sentenced to death, then why prolong it and waste resources?

Date: Mon, Mar 24, 2003 5:16 AM From: mstecklein@kumc.edu To: DoktorMo@aol.com

The amount and extensiveness of medical treatment given to a death row inmate will continually be under enormous amounts of scrutiny. On one hand, the prisoner has a right to any life-saving medical treatment. On the other side of the spectrum is the fact that this person has committed some sort of severe crime upon his fellow ciizens, and is now waiting for his sentence of death to be carried out. The number of available organs in the United States is scarce, and to give them to a patient already waiting on death row is simply a waste of a limited resource, not to mention the resources needed during and after a transplant to maintain a healthy, functioning organ.

Fortunately for the inmate, with the amount of DNA testing being done, it has become apparent that not everybody is guilty of what they have been accused of. Since there is doubt of the inmate being guilty, the organ should be given to him/her unless other wise proven 100% guilty.

Date: Wed, Mar 5, 2003 8:14 PM From: big_shows_brother@yahoo.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I think we shouldn't do anything with inmates that need life support or dialysis. Our government pays more per inmate than we do for our school-aged children. We need to have more lethal injections and quit building more prisons. I also think that they need to reinstitute the "chaingang". Prisoners need to work their butts off while in jail because most of them have it so good in prison. Where else can you get three full meals a day, a roof over your head, and watch T.V. for free???

Date: Mon, Mar 3, 2003 9:22 AM From: jwaun@kumc.edu To: DoktorMo@aol.com

At first when I read the question my initial thought was "heck no, are you crazy?" And after reading everyone's postings I STILL believe in the fact that death row inmates should not be allowed life-sustaining treatments.

Not to long ago on TV there was a special about a family who was waiting for a heart transplant for a loved one, and prisoner on death row had just received one. It was horrible to watch a family who try to understand and deal with the fact that more than likely their loved one was going to die because they did not get that transplant. I know all men are created equal, and that everyone deserves to be treated equally, but after working only a year in a large medical facility, I have come to realize that circumstances take priority over equality. For instance, if a 20 year old person comes to the hospital near death, and an 80 year old man comes in the same time, same scenario, the 20 year old will have everything possible done to the maximum, were as the 80 year old, will receive all the same treatment but not to the maximum. So lets say they both don't make it. What is typically said about the two cases? For the 20 year old, it is: They were taken to short of their life. The 80 year old: They live a long good life. Circumstantail beliefs allow me to say, that death row inmate made their own bed and now they have to lie in it. They took a life of another person, and now they will pay the price. On a lighter note, I do believe that death row inmates should receive medical treatments, for diabetes and other maintainable situations, but not for life-sustaining measurements.

So I leave you with this thought.... IF one of your family members, friends, etc, needed a transplant or else they were going to die and a death row inmate at a local prison needed one too, and that organ miracously became available... Who would you want to have it?

Date: Mon, Mar 3, 2003 9:20 AM From: crobinson2@kumc.edu To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I feel like organ donation for a patient on death row is absolutely absurd. What is our objective here? Are we trying to sustain a life just to see our treatment, resources, and not to mention large medical bills fry in the electrical chair? It is not a pretty picture. I am not even a supporter of the death penalty, but it is a reality in some states and we must address it. Just what we are really accomplishing by giving an organ to an inmate while taking it from someone who really has a chance of life beyond the number of years an inmate has before execution? We have judged their life. We have chosen the death penalty. And now we feel sorry and want to compensate with organ donation? ARE WE IGNORING THE FACTS? Death has been awarded by the state. There is a date to end their life and yet we think it's only ethical to harvest organs in an already predetermined life. I wonder if we are doing it to clear our consciousnesses or if we foolishly think we are accomplishing something. I feel that if natural causes were to take the life of an inmate then so be it. It would be far less traumatic than the alternative, i.e. electric chair. I do feel providing treatment other than organ donation to inmates is just and ultimately a humane way of addressing their physical well being leading to the day of execution. I am just totally opposed to the idea of organ transplantation for the obvious reasons I have just stated.

Date: Sat, Feb 21, 2003 11:26 PM From: TOMBURGE56309@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

This is a very hard topic to answer . You have some out there that deserve to be publicly quartered,but you also have people setting on deathrow convicted of crimes they didn't commit,waiting to die,and probably will. I use to be a death penalty freak until DNA came along and has proved a lot of innocent people were convicted wrongfully of crimes and almost lost their lives. Should a man be denied medical life saving treatment just because hes setting on deathrow,No he may be innocent of the crime he was put there for.

Date: Mon, Feb 17, 2003 8:24 AM From: boobacca@hotmail.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Normally I would say a prisoner deserves to be treated fairly and humanely just like the rest of us on the outside, but in an extreme case like a death row inmate needing an organ transplant, assuming this organ is in short supply, I have to consider the fact that the potential recipient is a death row inmate, scheduled by the state to die at some point in the future. The thing about a procedure like an organ transplant is that actual organs are an extremely limited resource. If a prisoner gets an organ then someone else is not going to receive the transplant that they need. If a heart from a healthy person hits the market, and there are 2 people eligible to recieve this heart- one, of course, being a death row inmate and the other a person living freely, I think we are obligated to give the heart to the person with the most potential to live and make the most of their new organ. I guess what I'm trying to say is that even though it seems like an unfair judgment and we are assuming too much, we really have an obligation to act fairly and give the transplant to the person who deserves it the most, and a death row inmate has to be immediately discounted as being a viable recipient. There are lots of complications to this, like the rare death row inmate who was unfairly tried, or framed, or not-guilty in some way making them the real victim. If that type of person was denied treatment that they needed to live, and they had a little time to really use the organ that they would get (ie: they aren't going to receive the transplant at 12 noon and go to the electric chair at 5pm-the transplant actually increases their lifespan), it would follow that we can't simply dismiss that person as a possible recipient. A case like that, however, is almost impossible to reckognize, seeing as the legal system couldn't see they were innocent, it's logical to conclude that the board which determines organ transplants wouldn't be able to discern them as innocent also. It is our obligation to do the most good that we can foresee with a limited resource such as organ transplants, unfortunately that means that we can't give a transplant to someone who is scheduled to live a shorter life unless there were enough to go around for everyone who was in need. Someone who posted before mentioned those death row inmates who last on death row for a long time, 10-20 years even. If an inmate like this, who is scheduled for execution 10-20 years in the future, needs a transplant, we have to respect that they have a chance to live for those 10-20 years that shouldn't be denied to them. Again though, if another person has a chance to last 30 more years on the same transplant, that is the person who should get it, simply based on longevity and the opportunity for the transplant to go to good use. The transplant should go to wherever it seems it will do the most good, but we can't judge the quality of persons life- like making a distinction between a prisoner and a common citizen. What we can judge is how much a transplant can effect 1 life; very little in the case of a death row inmate set to die in a week, or a great deal for a young person who can live much longer if they were given the organ they need. ----Well I hope I haven't overlooked too many aspects of the situation, but I'm sure I missed something, Jason Burke

Date: Mon, Feb 17, 2003 7:30 AM From: qwak1138@comcast.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com

When a person is convicted of a crime and sentenced to die, that sentencing is explicit in the time and manner of their death. By restricting their access to life saving treatment, society would be introducing a new form of execution and punishment.

As an alternative example: a fire breaks out in a prison. Prisoners are evacuated to a safe place, but the death row inmates are left inside even though they could have been saved quite easily. They burn up, while prison guards watch on, wearing fire retardant suits, without any regard for appeals or clemency. I believe this to be a form of murder, and, for me, the most disturbing part is that those that could help them would be required not to do anything., thus forcing them to murder.

Working in a prison is a choice, and creating a requirement for it that includes allowing inmates to die in long and painful ways, would appeal to a horrid collection, whether they were guards or doctors.

If you want a less liberal reason for providing medical treatment to death row inmates, here's one: it is society's right to choose the time and method of their death. It is not the choice of nature, or karma, or genetics, or a virus, or even God. It was society that was transgressed upon, it was society that allowed this evil to flourish, it is our wrong to avenge, our mistake to erase.

Finally, yes, many medical techniques and supplies are very rare, dangerous, or expensive. It might seem wasteful to use these or people who we know are going to die shortly. My answer to this is, make them more prevalent, safer, and cheaper. We can not use the shortcomings of medicine as reason to allow them to continue, but to require them to be transcended, so that proper treatments are available to all, whether they be prisoners, homeless immigrants, or middle income families.

Date: Mon, Feb 17, 2003 7:26 AM From: reillyc1@mail.montclair.edu To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Denying a convicted deathrow inmate proper medical treatment before is formal execution is flat out wrong. Convicts are human beings and should be treated as one. To deny them proper medicla attention is inhumane and cruel. Doctors and medical practioners, according to the Australian Medical Association, are required to act in the best interests of the patients. Everyone should be allowed to die as comfortablly and with as little suffering as possible. Denying adequate health care deprives them of this option. I understand that people will argue that these convicts violated these same rights to the people they hurt, but they have served their time, and are being but to death. If we allow them to suffer before they die, we are no better than they are, no matter what we think of them. Convicts are human beings, and should be treated as them.

Date: Mon, Feb 17, 2003 4:14 AM From: lotwalap@hotmail.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Once an individual is on death row, there are many rights that has been taken away from the inmate. The biggest two rights are freedom and voting. The question here is, should we as a society take away the right for life sustaining treatment? I would have to state that death row inmates should not have any rights for life sustaining treatment like transplants and kidney dialysis. The State has taken these individuals into their custody, therefore the State must provide the basic needs for these individuals until the execution date. These basic rights are food, shelter, and basic medical treatment. If this world had enough organs, than these inmates absolutely should receive the life-sustaining treatments. But the reality is we do not have enough of these resources to go around. This is where we, as a society, have to decide on who gets the organ or the treatment. These inmates should not receive them. The basic rights I mentioned above should be adequate enough for these individuals. Remember, the inmates are on death row because they single handedly took basic rights from their victims by murder. Since they made a decision to take this right, than we must also decide that a productive person living in society deserves the organ rather than the inmate. If people feel that my view is unethical, than I ask, isnít it unethical to lock these people up for 23 hours a day until the execution date, which can be anywhere from ten to twenty years. These inmates lost their right to freedom and their life. If they are dying due to organ failure, than I say, oh well. They placed themselves in that position and we need to make sure that people in society receive the organs and treatments first.

Date: Sun, Feb 16, 2003 12:00 PM From: avrachm1@mail.montclair.edu To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Dr. Moe, This is not an easy question. Should prisoners recieve the same medical treatment that a normal citizen would get? I would say yes, to an extent.

First, it should be divided between lesser and greater crimes. Someone who is in prison for a shorter amount of time and would be later released should not lose their medical treatment. Would someone who got sent to prison for 3 months for something relatively trivial have their health put in danger? I would not say so.

At the same time, if a prisoner has a regular medical issue, diabetes for example, that should always be sought to. Ignoring something like this might as well give that prisoner an automatic death sentance.

Also, since most prisoners will eventually be released back into society at some point, we will want to see them free of disease so that free citizens will not be harmed as well by them.

Then there is the question of whether or not a prisoner should recieve soemthing as rare and har dto come upon as an organ transplant. Since it is so difficult and often unlikely to find a proper organ doner, many end up perishing because they could not find a transplant. If a prisoner were to use up one of these valuable commodities, that would be one less upstanding citizen who would now die becuase it went to the prisoner. Is this right?

Again, it would not be so harsh if an organ went to a lesser criminal, someone who is not truly evil or hurtful to society. But would it be right to do so to, say, someone on death row for heinous acts such as murder and rape? Firstly, this is someone who has taken the life of another. If they took a donated organ, would this not be the same as taking the life of another all over again? On another level, it would essentially be a waste of an organ to give it to someone who will die anyway. The idea behind a transplant is to extend a life, after all.

What about plain medical treatment? I would say that all criminals shouls still recieve this, though. If they are not sentanced to death, then they should not recieve death. One prisoner's illness could also quickly spread to the population of the entire facility, as well as the staff of the installation as well. Certain illnesses can also lead to permanent impairments, which are not part of our justice system either. Matthew Avrach

Date: Sun, Feb 16, 2003 8:13 PM From: puracandela418@hotmail.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

It is hard for me even to believe that this is a question in people's minds. We are all humans and creatures that are meant to live. "All men are created equal," does that ring a bell to anyone. I feel that healthcare should never be denied to anyone let alone inmates or convicts faced with execution. Who is anyone to decide that a human being should not or should keep living? I am very opposed to the death penalty in itself so I am also very much opposed to inmates not receiving healthcare. They are being punished by not being able to live life the way we do. They can not wake up in the morning and enjoy a fresh cup of coffee without being worried about an inmate beating them up for it. I mean who's to say that some of the people on death row aren't innocent. There have been various cases where they find evidence later on that leads to show that the "convict" is actually innocent. So let's say this man needed a heart transplant and you deny it to him because he's going to be executed in "x" amount of time. Later on after he has died because he did not receive the transplant they find out that he was not guilty, then where does that leave us. How does that look in the eyes of society, how just or ethical is that.

There are people in this world, in our society, who are alcoholics and drug addicts and still receive treatment, but yet after they recieve that liver or heart they will continue drinking and damaging what was just given to them. This was said by Jeffrey P. Kahn, director of the center of bioethics, who wrote an article on Prisoners and Transplants. He writes, "while prisoners' actions make them seem like less worthy transplant candidates than many other members of society, the same can be said for alcoholics whose actions lead to the destruction of their livers and who need a transplant to survive, or smokers who contract heart disease. Yet we don't base transplant priority on patients' lifestyle choices. We put people in jail and take away their freedoms based on judgements about their unlawful action, but that ought to be separate from making judgements about their social worth for access to organ transplant. The truth is that if social worth becomes a criterion for judging who gets transplants first-or maybe who gets them at all-then we all had better take a hard look at our lifestyles and behaviors. In the end, the fact that the system offers heart transplants to inmates says more about what's wrong with healthcare for people outside of prison (then)that it says about how we treat those behind bars."

I love this part of the article. It makes so much sense. It's like a light bulb turned on in a dark room. We should be looking more at why healthcare isn't that good for us then to why they are receiving healthcare. We are so quick to be greedy that we do not think of what is actually going on. Why doesn't the average citizen have the same healthcare that a prisoner does. Who's fault is that? It's not the prisoner's fault and we should not take that from them. It is our government. So I think that in the long run, people should think things through before answering questions. We are to quick to form our own conclusions without being adequately informed. We have to take every aspect into consideration. My answer will always be to treat others as you would want to be treated, therefore, let them have their healthcare no matter what the circumstance of their crime. They are still human beings. Oh and remember, "all men are created equal," hmmmm I wonder where that's from?

Date: Thu, Jun 6, 2002 7:44 AM From: MNolan@eircom.ie To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Hi There

My answer to that specific question is that 'NO', it is not 'just and fair' to deny anyone the right to medical treatment whether or not he/she is condemned to die. We citizens in Ireland, Dublin, would not treat a dog or a cat like this. People are kept on death row for as long as twenty years or more, (is this not torture enough?) so if you're going to the bother to keep them alive this long, I think they have the right to be dignified and pain-free as long as possible. The prisoners have, in my eyes, enough pain day in and day out thinking about what time or minute they will be escorted to their deaths. (Really, none of us know what's around the next corner ). None of us ever know the time or day that we will end our days on this earth, but it must be absolute agony to know definately they will not live long lives, free lives or live to be old people. Their lives must feel like ticking bombs waiting to explode any minute. The deprevation, routine and lonliness living on deathrow itself, must be a life sentence. I think it's a cruel enough world without adding to it and I feel that anyone who gets a kick or laugh from someone elses pain and heartache, are absolutely sick and hard up for a laugh to be honest. Didn't mean to ramble on

Regards Marian

Date: Wed, May 1, 2002 6:48 PM From: molliegabrys@hotmail.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Dr. Moe, My name is Mollie Gabrys and I am currently a Senior at Deuel High School in Clear Lake, South Dakota. For my Advanced Biology class I have been exploring the moral and ethical issues behind organ donations coming from condemned prison inmates. It is by no means an easy task to know where to draw the line on this issue, yet I find it hard to think that when a prisoner is executed, those on transplant waiting lists may also die without a life-saving organ that could have been donated from that prisoner. Regardless of whether or not capital punishment is ethical, these prisoners on death row have already been sentenced to death. When addressing this topic, I believe that it is absolutely vital that we keep in mind that these inmates have already been sentenced to death, and through organ donation these prisoners would be granted one last chance to do something positive. I adamantly feel that people who are waiting on death row to be executed for their crimes should be permitted to save the lives of those who have committed no crime, but have still been condemned to deaththrough a lack of organs. However, I believe that these organ donations should be completely voluntary on the part on the inmates in order to preserve their dignity. With 39,000 patients on national waiting lists for kidneys and an estimated 3,000 more awaiting life-saving bone marrow transplants, the possibility of providing additional organs from those convicted to die could prove to be beneficial for both parties. Prisoners would have the option to do one last unselfish act and patients would be granted the gift of life. Thank you for your attention.

Respectfully Submitted, Mollie Gabrys

Date: Sun, Mar 31, 2002 8:34 PM From: Mpetaccia1@cs.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

The answer to how a death row inmate should be treated, the answer is, like a human being.

Danny Bello

Date: Sat, Feb 23, 2002 12:35 PM From: Patsjoye@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

It is difficult to say where to draw the line in this issue. We are a nation that whether we all believe in it or not, stands against the idea of cruel and unusual punishment. Whether we like it or not, prisoners have certain rights. I feel very strongly against investing valuable resources in a life you have already determined to take while denying benefits to those who truly deserve them. Providing dialysis is about as far as I personally am willing to go. I read an article today about an inmate sentenced to death who is a bilateral amputee due to complications from diabetes. He wants prosthetic limbs so that he can "walk his last mile." The institution says it is due to complications occurring during his healing that have delayed his fittings. He thinks its money. At this point, I wonder what difference does it make? Keep him comfortable and let him go. As far as there being people in prison who really don't deserve to be there, that is truly a tragedy. However, no system is infallible and all we can do is vote to change legislation.

Date: Fri, Sep 28, 2001 2:59 PM From: nursevarner1991@yahoo.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Here's the way I see it. First, I want to know for certain that the inmated is guilty of the charged offense, without doubt. If this is so, and they are in a life threatening situation, will require life support of some sort, then I say move the excution date forward to accomodate that person's dying situation. This way no one is being denied anything, and the tax payers aren't out needless money. Infact, it would save some by moving the date forward. This may sound harsh and cruel, but remember, I would first want to be certain that the inmate was guilty, and all appeals had been made on his part per his request and denied. nursevarner1991@yahoo.com

Date: Mon, Aug 27, 2001 5:48 PM From: prasani.mcwilliam@ag.gov.au To: DoktorMo@aol.com

SHOULD A DEATHROW CONVICT BE TREATED? Well that is quite a tricky question. Everybody is human ok, and as for deathrow there are more black prisoners that are convicted of a crime they did not commit and very few whites. I really don't understand the American way of torture, deceit, and cover-ups that happen behind closed doors. Yes I think a sick person should be treated, and ill person shuld be treated, what happened if your child was convicted for a crime and convicted of a crime they did not commit, and they were suffering from an illness? What happened if your child was in deathrow and needed treatment, reverse the situation onto yourselves.

Date: Wed, Mar 28, 2001 7:20 AM From: richnstef@carolina.rr.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I think that the denail of health care for deathrow inmates is a just thought. I mean if ou do the crime and you get sick and die, I think that just saves the state the expense of a injection. Besides i think that the offender should die the same way he/she killed their victim. If they shot them Then they should be shot, if the beat someone to death they should be beat, and so on. Thanks for the chance to sound off, Richard V.

Date: Thu, Mar 22, 2001 12:28 PM From: dooleyp@yahoo.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Well to start off i am a freshman in highschool. I am opposed to the transplant of perfectly good organs to a death row inmate becausewhether or not it is a debate about ethics, i don't see why you would want someone that is sentenced to die to get an organ when you can give it to another person that could actually use it and not be put to death while the organ is still good. I understand that an organ is only good for a certain amount of time after the donor has died, but if there is no qualified donor besides an inmate then go ahead and give it to the inmate, but NOT IF THERE IS ANOTHER QUALIFIED RECIPITANT. besides the fact that there is a extremly long waiting list to get a transplant, which means that if you go by my principals then there will most likley be no more prisioners reciving organs, which could benifit socoitey, because the inmates wouldn't be getting them and other people would be. Well that was an insight into a highschoolers mind. thanks for taking the time to read my letter, Patrick.

Date: Wed, Mar 7, 2001 1:25 PM From: ljs@ucsd.edu To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Should criminals receive expensive and scarce life support?

To answer this question, one must first distinguish between Medical Justice and Societal Justice. Justice refers to the fair distribution of benefits and burdens in society. Physicians, in accord with the best ethical traditions of medicine, are obligated to serve their patients without regard to perceived social worth. Under the notion of Medical Justice, if there is any limitation on the availability of life support, for example limited beds in the ICU, physicians are entitled to choose to give the last remaining bed to a patient who is most likely to recover with an acceptable quality of life rather than another patient who is not likely to do so. They are entitled to distribute limited treatments as long as the allocation is based solely on criteria of medical benefit without reference to non-medical factors like race, socio-economic status and other social categories.

Societal Justice takes into account that every community is composed of individuals of varying ages, fortunes, skills, talents, capacities, strengths and weaknesses. Unless deliberate redistributive mechanisms are put in place, inequalities that are unfortunate, e.g., being born poor, or disabled, will be arbitrarily preserved as unfair. Societal Justice is particularly important with respect to health care. In a just society (ours is almost alone among advanced civilized societies in not recognizing this moral principal) every full member of that society is entitled to a ďdecent minimumĒ of health care to grant that person access to a fair opportunity of participating in that society.

With respect to a criminal, one must ask: If a criminal has already taken (or attempted to take) more than his or her just share of societyís benefits, or unfairly caused undue burdens to others, should that person forfeit full membership in society? If the criminal is considered a full member of a just society, then that person would be entitled to at least a decent minimum. What is a decent minimum? Society must decide. Almost certainly it would not include organ transplant for a convicted murderer, since that would deprive a full member of society of a life-saving treatment. But even if criminals are not entitled to the same level of medical care afforded all members of society, that does not mean they are not entitled to receive any medical care at all. There is actually a lower level of care, a kind of rudimentary decent minimum given to persons on simple humanitarian grounds, even if they are not considered full members of society, e.g., illegal immigrants. Again, society must decide. But almost certainly it would include emergency life-saving treatments that do not deprive others of the treatment, including antibiotic treatment for bacterial pneumonia or insulin treatment for diabetic acidosis.

Larry J. Schneiderman, M.D.

Date: Sat, Nov 25, 2000 11:08 AM From: cindycook@prodigy.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com

In response to your question I feel that it is a waste of money, medical treatment, and resources to try to prevent the demise of a convict that has already been sentenced to death. Furthermore, why save someone that has been sentenced to death ecspecially if they can die of natural causes saving us the financial burden of treating he or she so that we can kill a healthy inmate. I do however have a question for you. I would like to know how often medical measures such as these are taken to save a convict already sentenced to death?

Date: Thu, Oct 26, 2000 10:37 AM From: hallt@LEE.ARMY.MIL To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Is it ethical and just to deny a convict, sentenced to die, life sustaining treatment before formal execution? Hell no it is not ethical! What if they had done something like that to the 75 men and women freed from death row since 1977 because they turned out to be innocent.


Date: Thu, Sep 21, 2000 6:12 AM From: jvinson@drs-esg.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com


Date: Wed, Jul 12, 2000 7:44 AM From: knee35@yahoo.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Here's a question... By giving life sustaining/supporting treatment to a death-row inmate, what is our objective? So that they might be completely healthy when they must face the electric chair? So that their pain will be even worse? So that not one of their senses be dulled and that they might have to feel the entire life ending process in each and every one of their nerves? I'm all for the death penalty. I think that if a person commits murder he should pay with his own life. No matter what way you look at the situation, the person on death row has been determined guilty by a jury and must face the consequence for their action. If they are condemned to death, let them die. There is no reason that they should HAVE to die by execution.

Date: Sun, Jun 11, 2000 2:02 PM From: integrity@dashmail.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I completely agree with the assertion that a society is judged by the treatment of the less fortunate. Though an inmate is guilty of committing a crime(s), this does not invalidate the person's human rights.

However, I think that the allocation of scarce resources must factor into the equation as to the opportunities a person receives. Medical procedures that save life's are always at a premium and we must always be on-guard to not be frivolous with those procedures.

Being on deathrow, by definition, is an acceptance that liberty and pursuit of happiness are no longer applicable. Further, being placed on deathrow is a statement by society (they pay the bills), that this person has disqualified themselves from living. But the State is charged with keeping this person from harm until that execution. Society clearly demands that the State provide those things that allows the fulfillment of their decisions. Kidney dialysis is certainly acceptable in this situation. If the inmate needed a transplant of a vital organ, then the equation of resources must rule the day.

Until the sentence from society is carried out, we must always leave open the possibility that this individual's life can be spared.

Date: Mon, Apr 3, 2000 5:09 AM From: mwinters@cc.memphis.edu To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Lest we forget, many of the people on death row are innocent ! However, for the sake of argument, lets say the person is undeniably guilty of the crime for which he/she has been incarcerated, does being a prisoner make a person less human ? The treatment that incarcerants and those on death row receive says nothing about the prisoner but, speaks volumes about who we are as people and as a society. Many philosophers have stated that the measure of a society is how they treat their most helpless and oftentimes dispised members : the elderly, children, the poor and prisoners. We are, by all measures, an "ugly" society!

Date: Thu, Mar 16, 2000 3:34 PM From: slb@ccp.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I feel that it should be the inmates choice. If he's ready to die then he should be able to go in peace.

Date: Fri, Oct 15, 1999 1:18 Pm From: Bnpfoster@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Why should a person who has murdered someone be allowed to receive life support treatments of any kind. They did not take into consideration their victims rights as they were killing them. I do not think they should have any rights whatsoever other than human and clean conditions in which to die. They are going to die anyway taxpayers should not be responsible for keeping that person alive just to execute them later. They certainly should not receive organs for transplant before a person who has not been convicted of murder.

Date: Thu, Oct 14, 1999 11:00 PM From: charlotteoo7@webtv.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Have you been watching the news ? there are plenty of innocent men waiting to die,DNA testing has already proved that we can be wrong !!! How many men have not had the chance to be reprsented fairly? It is inhumain to let people suffer and die guilty or innocent.

Date: Thu, Aug 5, 1999 10:37 AM From: skoen@utmb.edu To: DoktorMo@aol.com

My questions to you is, "Was it fair for the victim of a death row inmate to die????" No, I absolutely do not think we should use our financial resources for the care of a death row inmate. In my opinion, they should have to give up their rights when they decide to perform at act that would place them on death row.

3rd year medical student

Date: Mon, Jul 26, 1999 10:16 AM From: JSTACKHOUSE@hklaw.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

HELL YES. IT IS OK IF THEY DON'T GET MEDICAL ATTENTION!!!!!!!!! It is bad enough that I must waste my tax dollars on the frivolous things that the government uses it for to begin with, I will be damned if they should waste it on someone who gave up his/her rights when he/she murdered, maimed, mutilated, raped or just plain destroyed a person(s) or families lives. If I could pull the switch on all of them I would. I am SICK of these whiney pro-life/non-capital punishment idiots who think that a "serial killer, child molester" can be rehabilitated. It is obvious that they can not be otherwise the word "serial", would not be used. The BIBLE is very clear on capital punishment, and it also talks about obeying the laws of this land, the laws that were put in place by man, who was put in authority by GOD. And if your argument is that we could possibly kill an innocent, you are correct but the ratio basically is slim and in all matters of human existence someone innocent will (as unfortunate as it is) get hurt. If we lived in the perfect world we would not have "Death Row" inmates, but because we don't live in a perfect world we have the DEATH PENALTY.

Date: Tue, Jul 13, 1999 11:13 PM From: jspears@home.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Not only is it unethical, but it's murder. In most states that have the death penalty, the inmate is not on death row, but on "condemned row". The reason for this is that these inmates are not formally sentenced to death until the warrant is ordered by the state appellate court and affirmed by the federal circuit court and/or the United States Supreme Court. An inmate can have his sentence overturned at any time. To deny him or her life saving medical treatment because he "might" be executed is nothing more than murder.

From a legal standpoint, it is unconstitutional to deny an inmate life saving medical treatment. A state may pass legislation, but the statute will never pass constitutional muster. It's very sad that the majority of the public have no clue as to mechanics of capital punishment.

Date: Tue, Jun 29, 1999 8:07 AM From: twister46@webtv.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I beleive that everyone and that includes death row inmates, have a right to life sustaining support even if they are under a death sentence. We must remember, despite their crimes, they are still human beings and should be treated as such.

Date: Mon, Jun 7, 1999 7:07 PM From: shirley.stevens2@gte.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I Think all Death row inmates should be allowed medical treatment, Everyones only thinking about there tax dollars, well think about this.... What if it were a member of your family? how would you feel then?


Date: Tue, May 18, 1999 7:55 AM From: agostamichael@looksmart.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Yes I think it is just as ethical. They are sentenced to death already so I don't see why we should prolong there death so that we can just spend tax payers money to kill them with a lethal injection. Also, if they are in need of an organ but are going to be killed in a year or two, and there is another person who is in need of the same organ, who has priority? The one who will get the most use out of it. In this case, the person not on death row.

(: Michael :)

Date: Sat, May 1, 1999 6:25 PM From: jonkarpf@worldnet.att.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com


Date: Sun, Apr 4, 1999 11:19 AM From: piggerstoo@webtv.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I believe that until all their appeals have run out , we must give all death row inmates proper health care. To deny them such during the appeals process is "criminal" to say the least. We know from past experience that some sentences are reduced to life ,and some convictions are even overturned resulting in the release of these men.

Even though this is rare, we must not deny men life sustaining medical care until we kinow that their death at the state`s hands is indeed imminent. I must admit however that I do balk at something as drastic as an organ transplant. I`m afraid I do not have the answer for that one . I must leave that one up to greater minds than mine.

Date: Sun, Apr 4, 1999 5:46 AM From: guest@tamu.edu To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I just read the question concerning denying Death Row Inmates access to life saving medical technology. Without a doubt this is the most horrendous and callous thing that a society can endorse. First, these prisoners are humans, not animals, and as such must be afforded humane treatment. Secondly, if the prisoner has not been executed, the justice process has not been completed and the prisoner does not get the entire benefit of his constitutional right to due process. The effect of such denial to medical service is in clear violation the inmates rights and is clear unconstitutional. Lastly, I think that it horrible that members of our society would advocate allowing another human to suffer and die to save tax dollars. The evil that lurks in the heart of these advocates of this policy is equal and perhaps greater than that of any death row inmate.

Date: Wed, Mar 17, 1999 9:44 AM From: mccochar@isu.edu To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I feel that if the person is sentenced to die than let them die. They were the ones who commited an act that got them there, so they should be left to suffer in pain. Our tax dollars should not be used to keep someone alive if they are already sentenced to death. There are people who are on the streets and people who are poor that need that medical attention, but we are more worried about making a person on death rows life more pleaseant than those who are in our society struggling to survive? Let them suffer and die if needs be.

Date: Tue, Jan 26, 1999 4:30 PM From: LGut800427@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I cannot beleve such a stupid consideration would even come up as to give a donated organ to a death row inmate.

Date: Wed, Dec 16, 1998 4:42 PM From: seventy7seven_7@hotmail.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

my god, hello!?! the people on death row are still people who are we to choose who lives and who dies? we do not have the right were you chosen to point the finger, to say, no, you can't live? i wish people would stop playing 'holier than thou'

lotsoluv, tristtannia

Date: Thu, Nov 26, 1998 6:59 PM From: Oreo3737@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I believe that those prisoners who will soon be executed should not be given any medical treatment. If the person is suffering that much, just go ahead kill them now. If the prisoner has committed a crime that is immoral enough for the death penalty to be sentenced, then they do not deserve any type on beneficial treatment. Maybe it will cause them to realize the pain that they have brought upon others, if they too are in pain. I think we should just let them die. They definitely deserve it. Who would pay for all of this treatment? Innocent, hard working people would. Those people paying for such medical treatment may need to be treated too. They may not have the money to pay for themselves, let alone the prisoners. Sick children may need medical attention, but instead, we would be paying for the life of a convict who is going to die anyway. Why would any one want to pay for the life of a convict? Why waste our money, if they are going to die anyway.

Date: Fri, Jun 5, 1998 6:02 PM From: t.hamann@mailcity.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

The ethics surrounding the sustaining of life of death row inmates is a grey area. Many people believe that we should just give up on these men and women because they are going to die anyway...not true. Many inmates get their sentences commutted to life or are released when their innocence has been proved. To cut off their health care rights is totally appalling. I read many of the emails that others sent you and I was disgusted in people's views that we should just let them die. Just because they were sentenced to die does not mean that we should have faith that the jury was right. I do not know if I believe in the death penalty, but I do know that many people have been set free and the death penalty is not a detterant to murder. I believe that these men and women on death row can be rehabilitated even though our government has given up on the idea. All I am saying that you cannot take the right of health care away from an individual for any reason.

Tara Hamann

Date: Fri, May 15, 1998 3:56 PM From: sheilac@kalama.doe.Hawaii.Edu To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I think transplants should be used for people that aren't on Death Row. Because the ones on death row are going to die anyway.

Date: Sun, Mar 22, 1998 5:44 PM From: suntat@worldnet.att.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com


Date: Fri, Mar 20, 1998 2:08 PM From: wolavejl@Maritz.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I don't think anyone should be denied life support. I also don't believe in the death penalty. I heard on the TODAY SHOW this morning, that someone in Missouri is trying to pass a bill to allow death row inmates to donate bone marrow or an organ in exchange for a life sentence. I didn't hear too much about the subject but it sounds good to me.

Date: Thu, Mar 19, 1998 2:10 AM From: jlwise@ehc.edu To: DoktorMo@aol.com

To be ethically correct in answering this "dilemma" is unjust. We have to look at society as a whole and not just the prisoners on death row. In my heart I truly believe that no one should suffer no matter what crime they may have committed. BUT when there are babies dying because their families have no means of obtaining insurance to get the proper medical care needed - we as a society are unjustly allowing prisoners to get medical attention over innocent babies and children. What is wrong with society? Babies and children have a full live awaiting them while the only thing a prisoner on deathrow has to "look forward" to in the future is death. We need to start looking at prevention areas such as "our children's future" and their medical needs. You can turn on the television everyday of the week and see commercials practically begging for support to keep medical treatment available for children and everyday our taxes go to help shelter and feed criminals. What's wrong with this picture? We need to start rethinking ethical issues such as these to correct what is happening in the world today

Date: Wed, Mar 18, 1998 5:55 PM From: recombs@ehc.edu To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I think that it would be alright to go ahead and let them die. I am for the death penalty, and while they are on death row this is costing the tax payer's money. Who is going to pay for the life-support treatment? Personally, I do not want to dish out any more money for just to keep them alive.

Date: Sat, Mar 14, 1998 5:27 PM From: ram37@earthlink.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com

"Is it ethical and just to deny a convict, sentenced to die, life sustaining treatment before formal execution?" If the convicted individual has lost all appeals, then, and only then I think using money to preserve the convict's life becomes a moot point. Ramon Morales

Date: Fri, Feb 27, 1998 11:04 AM From: cecelia.hetrick@gtri.gatech.edu To:DoktorMo@aol.com

If expensive medical care were to be available to everyone, I would not care if deathrow inmates received the same care. If it isn't available to virtually everyone - then the inmates can have nothing more than that to which an uninsured, older, disabled person may be entitled. Too many criminals have an easier life than the regular working stiff. cecelia.hetrick@gtri.gatech.edu

Date: Mon, Dec 22, 1997 2:39 PM From: peckn@okway.okstate.edu To: DoktorMo@aol.com

No it is not ethical or just to deny them life sustaining treatment. First, I think we have to consider the fact that, in our court system, they can appeal their sentence, call for another trial or be pardoned. We have seen a number of inmates on death row who have been set free after years and years of confinement due to technological advances in DNA testing. We know that there are definite prejudices in our judicial system; people are unjustly accused and sent to jail then, through the appeals process, at times they are found innocent. Just because someone is on death row does not mean they are guilty. It also does not mean they will be killed. How can we, as a society, deny treatment and, in essence, create a type of concentration camp, carrying out their sentence for them by denying medical treatment before their time and our judicial process has been served. That course of action would be parallel to a mob lynching, in my opinion. (I also don't believe that ANYONE should be denied health care and there are definite flaws in our societal system as not everyone has the shelter, food and medical treatment they need to survive. We cannot, however, punish inmates for our society's deficiencies and our frustrations.)

Natalie Peck

Date: Sep 15, 1997 12:48 PM From: JSteige@ens.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I am personally "all for" the death penalty. However, I believe that a death row inmate who is in need of life support while he/she is waiting to be executed should be allowed to have it if he/she "wants" it. I know this seems to be a contradictory statement and it would take to long for me to fully explain why I feel this way so I will only tell one of the reasons that I feel this way. It is not our place to with hold medical help from anyone. Yes, this person will quite possibly die in the electric chair or by lethal injection but up until it is time for them to be executed they should still be treated as human beings. I am not saying that these people are not heartless a-holes who deserve to die, what I am trying to say is that if we do give them all the help that we can while they are waiting to be put to death then we are better people than they are. If we allow them to die any other way than in the electric chair or whatever form of execution that is chosen then the victims and the families of the victims will NEVER gain closure and we as human beings should allow them to have the closure they so desperately need to get on with their lives. Thank you

Date: Sat, Jul 26, 1997 12:25 PM From: DocReading@sprintmail.com (William H. Reading, MD) To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Medical care as well as food and shelter is given to convicted prisoners which is not offered to the poor, uninsured, underinsured nd the homeless. This whole issue cannot be ignored in a discussion of ethical issues involving transplantation or in the allotment of expensive or scarce resources. Is there a right to healthcare in general? If there is not a general right to healthcare, how is it possible to preferentially treat one group of people. I would suggest that to give a right to healthcare to prisoners and not to the poor, uninsured, and underinsured would be unfair to society. If a death row inmate has exhausted all appeals there is still the opportunity of a pardon. To my knowledge, there have been cases where new evidence has produced a pardon even after all opportunity for appeal has been exhausted. While the likelihood of a pardon is small, I would hate for a innocent man to be denied life support if it is considered a right to all. If healthcare is not a right, however, I do not think that any convict should be treated preferrentially as compared to those who have not committed a crime.

Date: Thu, Jul 24, 1997 8:48 PM From: ben@tucson.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

How come theres so many groups that want to stop abortion and the argument you always hear from them is that you cant just take away life from anyone but there is no one who cares about takeing away the life of death row inmates. Also how come you always see reporters standing out side the prison or talking about someones case, but you never see them inside or talking to the prisioners.


Date: Mon, Jul 21, 1997 6:16 AM From: Nrse4morph@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

It is one thing to provide healthcare that gives a sense of human dignity, it is an entirely different issue to provide truly heroic measures. We do not have to provide all of the types of care available to anyone who wants it. Just check with your insurance company. First of all if the question were to arise the same criteria should be applied to the criminal as to any other type of organ recipient. 99% would not qualify on either lifestyle, or life expectancy issues alone. Then for that 1% that just might make the cut, there is the financial issue, while they might not have jobs, they can contact people outside of the prison and ask them to raise funds. I would suggest that those opposed to the death penalty contribute. For those who can then raise the funds, they can then be placed on a waiting list like everyone else who needs an organ. There are however several restrictions that I would place upon it. 1) No more public monies could be used than if they were a normal citizen. Being incarcerated is a consequence of their actions, and does not obligate society to spend more than requrired to meet their basic needs. 2) Except for the surgery of implanting the organ itself and the immediate postop period, they must be cared for in a secure facility. This falls under #1 with regards to paying prison guards or police to guard the patient outside of a normaly secured facility. 3) The most important, it must be determined by historical evidence that the criminal is not simply trying to perpetrate another murder by denying that resource to someone in society.

This should apply to organ transplants, as well as other scarce resources. The courts guided by the laws of our land say that these people have in fact abrogated their rights to the same treatment as those in society who have not been convicted. We may not torture them, and we must treat them with human dignity. We do not have to give them every thing that they may want.

Date: Mon, Jun 9, 1997 3:17 PM From: Xrai@widomaker.com (Greg Raiha) To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I am currently doing a research paper on Death Row. I initially had an open mind on the whole issue. After reading many articles, facts, and comentations, I find this issue on inmates receiving health care while on Death Row is completely rediculous. The actual time that these inmates are spending in jail, eating up societies money, is outrageous! The question is not "is it ethical" its "why should we". These people are casted out of society and said unfit to live among; we don't owe these people anything! The first thing that comes to mind is a young child needing a transplant of somesort, and hours earlier it went to an inmate that is schedualed to die in a couple months anyway. I have become completely onesided when the issue of inmates come up, they deserve nothing. I feel that inmates already receive far too much as it is, are we forgetting the definition of "prison" or "guilty"?

Date: Fri, Apr 25, 1997 7:42 AM From: LaskeyA@dir49.nichd.nih.gov (Laskey, Aaron) To: DoktorMo@aol.com

To even ask whether or not death row inmates should have access to life sustaining treatments must be preceded by an ethical defense of capital punishment. Setting this question aside for the sake of the discussion (and by no means do I believe that capital punishment can be justified), the obvious answer is yes, death row inmates should have the same priveleges of organ transplant, dialysis, etc. that we enjoy outside of prison institutionalization. Denial of these rights is fundamentally inhumane: Little distinction can be made between denying critical health services and indulging in torturous acts--they both result in suffering, though one is from neglect and the other from assertion. Medical professionals honor to make every effort to reduce suffering. Why shouldn't we outside that profession do the same? The support of an such a racist and classist institution as capital punishment in this country is indefensible. Asinine hypocrisy in arguments such as "these people have given up their rights by committing heinous acts of crime" begs the question: If your rights to health care were determined on a continuum of moral good, what kind of condition would you be in right now? Disregard for human life in any form is equally reprehensible.

Date: Mon, Mar 31, 1997 6:58 PM From: OUTridelta@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I feel that prisoners on death row that are scheduled to be executed should not get the priviledge of life support treatments. When these people committed a crime and were found guilty of such, they lost all rights to any priviledges that society is granted in everyday life. They gave up their basic rights and in doing such, they also gave up their ability to sustain life. This may sound harsh but with their death already scheduled, I feel that it would be more ethical and humane to grant them a natural death. What is just and fair for the society matters more in this aspect. As a law abiding citizen, I don't feel that my tax dollars should be used to sustain life for a convict on death row. There are greater problems in this country that our government can put our tax dollars toward besides sustaining the life of a death row inmate. I feel that what is just and fair for a death row inmate is small compared to the justice and fairness society receives from putting a criminal behind bars.

Date: Wed, Mar 19, 1997 3:05PM From: efought@fdldotnet.com (Eric S. Fought) To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I would agree with the majority on this one. If the question would be regarding those inmates that are not on death row, that would be another case. However, no matter what your opinion of the death penalty is, these people are going to die anyway. If they die naturally, so be it.

Date: Wed, Mar 19, 1997 5:17 AM From: Mom4@webtv.net (Cathy Wienckowski) To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I feel that yes , there is no point in giving these people life supporting treatment. They are going to be killed. Isn't it more ethical to let them die a natural death? There are people in the free world, that don't have the money for life support and they are let die. People don't talk about it but they do.

Date: Tue, Mar 4, 1997 9:34 AM From: loraleer@juno.com (Lora L Robertson) To: DoktorMo@aol.com

In response to whether or not death row inmates should receive life support treatment... In the U.S. Bill of Rights it states that all citizens have the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Inmates who are on death row have given up their rights. They have taken away the rights of others in the most heinous of crimes and breached their rights in the process. I believe in doing good and doing right. As a student nurse, we learn to be impartial of our patients -- to care for their needs without be judgmental of the circumstances which have brought them into our care. I do my best to care for my patients the best I know how with respect for their differences in lifestyle, background, etc. In this case however, it would seem to me that the most good would come from letting them die naturally. It is true that most inmates on death row may be there for several years before their actual execution, but why should we strive to preserve their lives this week when they could die of natural causes -- just so that next week we could kill them artificially ourselves? Keeping them alive when they could die naturally, almost seems more inhumane than preserving their lives so that we can kill them artificially. Almost like in ancient times, when a prisoner or slave was nursed to their best health so that they would be strong for the torture to come that would give their lives an end.

Date: Fri, Feb 21, 1997 1:29 PM From: ai980@lafn.org (Tony Pathirana) To: DoktorMo@aol.com

If you ask me, Death Row Convicts should be taken straight from court, to the gas chamber, or wherever they are beeing exicuted!!! So no, they shouldn't get ANY medical treatment while waiting to die!!!

Date: Sun, Feb 16, 1997 10:58 AM From: Barabbus7@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

No, I don't believe death-row convicts should get life prolonging treatment when they are sentenced to die. I feel this way because others in society who have obeyed the law should get the organ transplant first. If there was no shortage of organs for organ transplant, I'd say sure, give 'em a spare organ, however this is not the case.

Date: Tue, Nov 19, 1996 4:28 PM EDT From: james.hansen@NT2.estherville.k12.ia.us To: DoktorMo@aol.com

No way!!! If they've done something bad enough to deserve to die, why should our tax dollars pay for some lifesaving treatment. If they die before they're sentenced to lethal injection or other means of termination then that's one less death we as a society has to pay for. So I say let 'em die, and I'll see you at the CROSSROADS!

Date: Tue, Oct 22, 1996 2:18 PM EDT From: bkbf@worldnet.att.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Let us rephrase the question: is it ethical or just to allow a law abiding citizen (your mom,dad,sister,brother,aunt,uncle,cousin,husband, wife,friend,or lover)to die in order to give a scarce resource (ie an organ) to a conviced serial killer, child rapist,murderer,or torturer who has been tried and found guilty by a jury of his peers and sentenced to death? This is essentially what you are asking, but are phrasing in a very politically correct manner.

No, it is not just or ethical to waste our precious and scarce resources on a condemned murderer. There is no redeemtion for these people, they are sentenced to death. They have committed a crime against society which they KNEW was wrong, and most go to great lengths to avoid detection. What does society owe them? Humane treatment to be sure. To save their life while another law abiding citizen dies? NO. If organs were abundantly available,if good people were not dying at the rate of 7 per day (Http://www.med.umich.edu/trans/transweb/gallup_survey/gallup_forward.htm l) while awaiting organ transplants, then you could question the justness of denying these convicted murders their share of this resource.

This may seem harsh to those who would cry at the loss of these tarnished souls but they have chosen their path. Read what John Douglas has to say about these individuals, they are not insane, they know what they are doing is wrong. They are for the most part of above average intellegence and do in fact pick and chose their victims and circumstances to give themselves the best chance of commiting the crime without being caught. Would you sacrifice a law abiding, contributing member of society to death to save this person? I WOULD NOT.

Date: Tue, May 21, 1996 12:23 PM EDT From: zskye@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

No. It is not just to deny life sustaining organs to inmates, who are on death row, because they should not be rejected from human society, or humanity itself, because they've committed a heinous crime. Yes, it is true that the death row inmates will be put to death eventually, under the law, but factually speaking the average death row inmate remains on death row for about twelve years before that actual execution date. Other people who do get organ transplants, do not always go through the process successfully. Often times, their bodies reject the transplants, thus the organ becomes a waste; where it could have been used for a better cause. Many do argue that giving organ transplants to death row inmates is a waste of taxpayers money, but is not also a waste of these same taxpayers money to spend it on people and procedures that will not prove to be essential in saving a life.

Vivian Onuoha Mt St Joseph Academy

Date: Mon, May 20, 1996 1:26 PM EDT From: zskye@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

In response to Mandi Lau in terms of "consequentialism" what are the consequenses of an "us" and "them" Society?

Who is to say who has the right to recieve the Organs available to society? Who has the right to take away an individuals Human Right to life? What places convict patients below people in society?

No human has the right to say that one person has the right to available organ and another does not. In order to be considered for an transplant you have to wait a long time, no person has the right to tear a human out of a long line and tell them that they do not have the right to this organ that they have been waiting for. There is not one HUMAN that should be powerful enough to tear away a humans right.

A convict should not be placed below people in society simply because they have committed a crime. The fact of taking away this humans rights once but never mind twice is very unethical. Once being sentencing them to the death penalty. Twice being taken away the right to organs that were deserved to them."

Kristyn Pyne Mount Saint Joseph Academy

Date: Wed, May 15, 1996 9:54 AM EDT From: zskye@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

What? Is it ethical and just to deny a convict sentenced to die, life sustaining treatment before formal execution. Do we have the right and what is the persons Rights. Why? People say that these convicts have to pay for their crimes. Also why should we save someones life who is going to die anyways. However every human being has the right to life and the Hippocratic Oath says that a doctor is to treat all patients with equality. We ask this question because each year alot of money is being spent on these people and many question whether we should give them organs if they are going to die anyway. How? The debate is still going on today. Some people think these people should be put to death soon after their sentencing. Others think that, since they are humans, they have the right to these life saving treatments. It was stated that since these people committed a crime they should be summoned and put to death. However from deontological Point of view, it is the doctors duty to treat all patients and not to discriminate. They should recieve their treatments. Also, in respect to non-malificence, we should not inflict physical or mental harm to others, doctors expecially should not. Foreseable effects. The consequences. 1. These convicts could be denied treatment and be forced to suffer. By doing this we are carving out our duty to do no harm. However this will anger some people. The people who feel strongly that these organs should be given to people who are not going to die in the near future. These inmates have the right to equality of life that includes their basic needs food, clothing, shelter and healthcare by taking it away we are denying them the quality of life that everyone has the right to. 2. We could also decide to give them treatment. By doing so we are giving these people the quality of life they deserve. People may argue from the consequentialist, point of view. They think that if it brings about the greatest good for the greatest number of people then it should not be done. They believe that a person on death row does not need it as much as a person who is not and that person would benefit more. However when it comes down to it everyone has when it comes down to it everyone has the right to a certain quality of life that is our deontological responsibility to carry out and make sure they get it. Alternatives We could place organ transplant recipients on a list to recieve transplalnts and whoever is next in line for a kidney or liver give it to them no matter who they are. Treat them as a number so no one will get special treatment. If the person next in line is a death row inmate then give it to them. Even if Micky Mantle is next give it to him. Everyone has a right to health care and should be given a fair chance to getting it. In my opinion I think that it is ethical and just to give death row inmates an organ transplant. It is a deontological responsibility to make sure everyone gets the quality of life they are entitled to. They had to wait on a list for the organ like everyone else We as humans do not have the right to take this away from them. They are humans like us too. Yes they did do some thing evil however, they are already being punished for what they did. They ar on death row so, why should we punish them further by taking away their rights. They are human with souls and have a right to quality of life that everyone recieves.

Rita Capotosto, Mt. St. Joseph Academy

Date: Wed, May 15, 1996 9:32 AM EDT From: zskye@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Is it ethical and just to deny a convict, sentenced to die, life sustaining treatment before formal execution? By applying the ethical concepts of "consequentialism", I believe that it is a waste of taxpayers money to support these criminals, who have done so severe crimes that they deserve to be sentenced to death in prison for so long anyways. The consequence is that this money can bre used into the future for good people, such as children, which are the future of the society. There is already a serious shortage of organ donations, even people who have not done any crimes may not receive any organ transplant to sustain life, why [give] to the criminals who have done wrong too.

Mandi Lau, Mt. St. Joseph Academy

Date: Thu, Apr 25, 1996 2:14 PM EDT From: zskye@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

In response to whether being a Death-Row convict means the loss of the right to preservation of health and life before the official sentenced is carried out?

In my opinion NO. None of Gods creations should suffer or be denied to preserve health. Obviously this person has committed a serious crime but does this mean society has the right to torture these people and their families with revenge. This revenge being the physical suffering that would be inflicted on this person. A medical condition in which the seriousness is severe enough that an organ transplant is necessary for this person to survive must be very painful. Should this pain be inflicted on any human being. It was not right for this person to interfere with the victim of their crime's life so what makes it right for society to interfere with theirs. Sure this person is already destined to die, however our judicial system has sentenced him to a formal execution and this should be carried out. People say that these convicts have to pay for their crimes. Would'nt it be true that sitting awaiting your death is much worse in punishment than to one day never to wake up.


A sick death-row convict should be treated as any other human being would be treated with the same illness. A human being should not be denied there human right simply because they have committed a crime. The Hypocratical Oath is also relevant to how a doctor should treat ALL of his patients. The Hypocratical Oath says "A doctor is to treat ALL patient with equality.


In response to whether it is fair that a convict on death-row gets a scarce resource while some person outside of prison is denied this resource?

Yes, It is fair. Every person is due to the resources we have available to us scarce or not scarce. For a person to be nominated for an organ they have to wait many years to become a canidate for the organ. This individual on Death-Row might have been waiting many years to recieve this treatment. What gives society the right to take this away from this individual. Every human being has human rights to life. My opinion on the best way to decide on who is eligable to receive organs is that a pool of applicants is developed, The Task Force recommends a first come first serve lottery, with one exception , individuals can advance if the individual is in danger of death and the canidate originally scheduled can live long enough to be assured that they will obtain an organ in time for their life to be successful.

Kristyn Pyne Mount Saint Joseph Academy

Date: Mon, Apr 1, 1996 10:10 PM EDT From: ssandler@passport.ca To: DoktorMo@aol.com

The issue here seems to me to be a little silly. Should we help save the life of someone who is going to die anyways at a later time? Of course not. It is a waste of taxpayer's money to support him in prison for that long anyways, but the cost could go up exponetially if the prisoner has to be kept on life support. It is my belief that the prisoners, if sentenced to death should be executed promptly after sentenceing unless an appeal is made, which invariably it shall be. It seems silly that a man or woman (but mostly men) should have to live for eight to ten years to die when it could happen in a few months or weeks.

Stephen Sandler

Date: Sat, Mar 23, 1996 9:46 AM EDT From: af485@lafn.org To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Few ethical issues have pat answers. In the example cited, the easiest problem to answer is dialysis. Physicians are at all times obligated to do the best for their patients and with unlimited funds, even for one sentenced to die, the answer would have to be an unequivocal demand to treat. Funds for medical care however are limited; the sanest solution for fair distribution of care is Governor Kitzhaber's "Oregon Plan" (*). If the same convict needed a renal transplant, the issue becomes more complex; but a similar priorization system could involve not just cost but availability and merit of the recipient. A far more difficult moral decision would have to be made if the convict had a malignancy, which untreated, was always fatal, but now experimental treatment was available, which successfully cured some patients. The options would be: (1). No treatment - the patient dies of cancer, or is first executed. (2) Treatment unsuccessful - as in (1), but in the mean time, the patient might have undergone prolonged painful or disfiguring treatment. (3) Treatment successful - his sentence might be commuted and he lives a long life in prison. I shudder to consider the other possibility: successful treatment followed by execution. I will let the reader think about this.


* "Oregon Plan" developed by the then emergency room physician and chair of the Oregon senate and now governor involves a two-tiered priorization system. The first is a numerical listing all possible medical conditions into a hierarchy of worthiness of treatment (say with obstetric care, child immunization and treatment of acute diseases in young adults at the top of the list, transplants for cancer patients at the bottom). The second is financial; a governmental (or other) agency determines the amount of money to be spent on health care; this in turn determines how far down the medical list the funds will go in covering medical care.

Hans G. Engel

Date: Fri, Mar 22, 1996 10:38 PM EDT From: Paula.Parsons@jcu.ed.au To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Yes it is just to deny a convict,sentenced to die a life sustainig treatment before a formal execution. It may not be ethical in todays standards but it is definately just. Why should a convict, who is provided with shelter,food, clothing and basic health FREE of charge, be given the security of knowing he/she will have the best/most expensive high cost health resources at their beck and call. What has he/she done to deserve such a wonderful privilege? Murder the 60 yr old pensioner next door? Committed rape/assualt/armed robbery shooting a couple of people? If this person is already sentenced to death row ,he/she has already been a huge expense to society. Police time, lawyers fees, psychologists analysis, tax payers money. God the list goes on.

Why not save the expensive formal execution and let them die of natural causes without medical intervention. Just because technology is available does not necessarily mean we always must use it. It comes at a price. Who would miss out as a result of some convict-of no worth to society, getting a kidney transplant for example. Resources are not always available or distributed evenly as it is. Think of the staff,money and expertise that would be taken away from other needed members of a community.

The number of starving children in the States is an issue you should throw money at. Why throw good money and resouces after bad. Put our resources and money into the future not some sad case who attempted to shit on our society. What the question should be is it it ethical to give these convicts any special treatment at all? What about the social problems they have left behind for us to mend. The mental anguish and trauma many of the victims family goes through? Convicts have too many rights which they should lose after committing the crimes they do.


Date: Thu, Mar 14, 1996 10:05 AM EDT From: zskye@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Since the average stay on death row between sentencing and execution is twelve years it would seem to be a justifiable risk. One would assume that you are not denying the convict human rights just because he/she is a convict. Nor would you deny him/her just because he/she knows that death is in the future - it is the human condition.

Greg Lewis

Date: Wed, Feb 28, 1996 1:17 AM EDT From: Magnolia_Cat@msn.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I believe that not only is it ethical, but it would be beneficial for states to deny most all medical treatments to death row inmates. We spend so many millions (I assume) dollars on upkeep of these "men" yearly. And so many of these men sit here for years and years on technicalities. I think if you are on death row, you should actually be put to death (in a reasonable amount of time). By "milking" these men along for so many years, we are mearly prolonging the agonny of the inmates themselves and the families they have affected. Let's clean up our prison systems. Maybe it would act as a deterent if criminals knew that they would not be treated as the humans they have proved to society that they are not (is that a sentence?). WHY should a man announced to die be given life supporting treatments. It simply does not make sense.

Lisa Branson


U.N. Principles of Medical Ethics in the Treatment of Prisoners

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