Posted January 13th, 2010 @ 10:03am by Erik J. Barzeski
I read this article about Christian Longo in Esquire. Naturally, I was struck by the gruesomeness of his crimes and can't begin to imagine how someone can be so screwed up in the head, but I was also struck by his new mission.
The GAVE project seeks to change the way in which we kill prisoners on death row from lethal injection to, well, a different kind of lethal injection. Current methods render the body's organs unusable for transplant, and Longo simply wants a method that induces brain death so that prisoners - many of whom are repentant - can do one final act of "good" before they die.
I'm okay with the death penalty. If anything, I think it's somewhat obnoxious how long we allow people sentenced to death alive via their various appeals, but I also don't know the statistics on the number of people wrongly on death row and I certainly back the legal argument that they should have the legal rights to do so1.
That said, I also find it somewhat intriguing that with all of the knowledge medical science has these days and with such a need for organs that we still inject prisoners with a chemical cocktail that renders their organs unusable.
I have an organ donor sticker on my driver's license. I have had a "donate life" badge on this blog with my own stupid "Donate Life: Because if you're not using your body parts, someone else can." slogan next to it for several years now because it helps to remind me of a friend who has had one and will need a second heart transplant.
It's also interesting to think of how someone would feel if they had a new liver or kidney or even heart or lung from a convicted, sentenced, and executed murderer. One one hand, it's just a bunch of cells. Cells don't have a "memory." Your liver nor even your heart can compel you to do something (despite the story of a certain movie). On the other hand, well, ick. It may take a stronger than usual person - or perhaps an unusually forgiving one, or an unusually desperate one - to accept organs from the executed. It's creepy; I get that. In my case, should I ever need an organ, I think I'd get over it, but I can see how it might freak out others.
If I put myself in the position of someone who's going to die in a week because he can't get an organ he needs, I'm going to be awfully pissed off at both a medical and legal establishment that's there to protect the innocent and heal the sick if there's an inmate that wants to give me an organ and I'm willing to take it. I'd be asking - or at least wondering - if the doctors and lawyers feel as though they're guilty of committing a murder of their own.
- I suppose I just wish the courts could hear and uphold the rulings more efficiently.↩