I think the New York Times report on this story gets the angle wrong. From the story:
Two Mississippi sisters serving double life sentences for their roles in an $11 armed robbery will be released, but only on the condition that the younger sibling donate her kidney to her sister, whose organs are failing, state officials said Thursday.
That makes it appear to be a matter of coercion. It’s not. Rather, the two are apparently rehabilitated—-I don’t think the amount taken matters morally—and the release seems a proper executive commutation that, frankly, more governors and presidents should exercise. (W was very niggardly (that’s not a racist term!) with pardons, and Obama’s no better.
Here’s what Governor Barbour said:
Governor Barbour said his action, which has been under consideration for nearly a year, was motivated in part by Jamie Scott’s declining health and the cost of caring for her. “Jamie Scott requires regular dialysis, and her sister has offered to donate one of her kidneys to her,” Mr. Barbour said in a statement. “The Mississippi Department of Corrections believes the sisters no longer pose a threat to society. Their incarceration is no longer necessary for public safety or rehabilitation, and Jamie Scott’s medical condition creates a substantial cost to the state of Mississippi.”
It seems to me this is a case of compassionate release of two sisters so one can donate, not a case of forcing a sister to donate in the guise of compassionate release. Nor is it a form of paying for organs. Good for Haley Barbour for doing what clearly appears to be the very right thing.
(There were other very good reasons for the commutation involving criminal justice considerations, but they are beyond our scope here.)