Give a Kidney to Shorten Your Prison Sentence?

ByABC News
March 9, 2007, 11:53 PM

March 9, 2007 — -- It's an over-the-top get out of jail free card. All you have to do is agree to have your body cut open and hand over a kidney. Would you donate an organ if you knew it would get you an early release from prison? There's a possibility desperate inmates could soon get the chance to make that decision for themselves, if a new proposed bill gets passed in South Carolina.

In a totally bizarre proposal, lawmakers there are considering legislation that would let prisoners donate organs or bone marrow in exchange for time off their sentences. The incentive policy would be the first of its kind in the nation.

A state Senate panel on Thursday endorsed creating an organ-and-tissue donation program for inmates. That's not really an issue. But the stickier measure legislators re debating: whether to reduce the sentences of participating prisoners. The bill would shave up to 180 days off a prison sentence for donor inmates.

The bill's chief sponsor, Democratic Sen. Ralph Anderson, says he thinks it is imperative that this bill gets passed. "This country is in desperate need of organ donors," Anderson. Says. "Thousands of people are dying and it's very difficult to get someone to donate bone marrow or an organ . I think this would be a new population that they could draw from and would save lives on top of lives." Anderson says he thinks a lot of prisoners would be pleased to know they've contributed to saving a life.

More than 95,300 Americans are awaiting an organ transplant, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. About 6,700 die each year.

Chances are the bill will not pass because it's probably going to be considered a violation of federal law. Congress passed the National Organ Transplant Act in 1984 that makes it a federal crime "to knowingly acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer any human organ for valuable consideration for use in human transplantation. It is likely 180 days off a sentence could constitute "valuable consideration."