Donation of organs in order to save lives of people suffering from organ failures has been a trend in the medical industry in the United States of America, as well as in other parts of the world. After the successful kidney transplant of early 1955, millions of people have been donating their organs in order to help in saving lives of patients with organ failures. Medical professionals assert that anybody who is healthy and willing to donate his or her organ can do so at any medical facility. The increase in the number of patients who require organ transplants has resulted into growing need for organ donations. In the United States, the demand for donated organs surpasses the supply by approximately ten percent. As a result, new trends, such as donation of organs by inmates, have emerged. Although there is no such state in the U.S. that has passed any law designed to legalize donation of organs by inmates, strong debates have risen over the suitability of using prisoners as a source of organs. Contentious debates are conducted on whether or not inmates should be allowed to donate their organs. This issue has drawn strong arguments from both the proponents and the opponents, as well.

People, who propose that inmates should be allowed to donate their organs, argue that it will substantially help in reducing the gap between demand and supply for organs, thus it will lead to  solving the deficit or insufficiency of organs in the United States of America. For example, Caplan asserts that only eight thousand people donate their organs in the United States annually, whereas the number of patients who require organ transplants is more than one hundred and twenty thousand annually (4). Thus, it would be prudential to allow inmates who are healthy and willing to donate their organs to do so in order to help in solving the shortage crisis for organs. Similarly, Caplan argues that when inmates donate their organs, they help in saving lives of thousands of people who require organ transplants (6).

On the other hand, opponents of using inmates as donors for organs argue that it is unethical and practically difficult for inmates to donate their organs because of the manner and environments, in which most prisoners are executed or killed. Most inmates are usually executed in maximum security prisons, where medical professionals might not be able to access. In addition, doctors and other medical professionals would not like to be involved in unethical practices and may not accept to work in such harsh environments, where inmates are being executed.

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Why prisoners shouldn’t donate organs

Moreover, organ donation by inmates may not sufficiently fill the gap between demand and supply for organs, because the number of inmates who are capable of donating their organs is approximately twenty every year; hence, there will be no considerable increase in supply of organs, even if inmates are allowed to donate their organs. Therefore, the difference between the supply and demand for organs in the United States should not be used as a justification or excuse for allowing inmates to donate their organs. Allowing inmates to donate would not increase the donor pool considerably.

Secondly, if the state and federal governments allow donation of organs by inmates, there are high chances that the correctional institutions and the government may be lured and encouraged to kill inmates in order to save lives of other people. Thirdly, allowing inmates to donate their organs makes them heroes in the society. Consequently, the primary goal of social justice is undermined and dented. Thus, in order to serve the morality of the imprisonment and death penalty, prisoners should not be allowed to donate their organs. Organ donations by inmates will only undermine the sentencing of prisoners. Inmates may also be tempted to donate their organs with the purpose of  receiving lenient and compassionate treatment during their imprisonment and before execution or killing. Similarly, more inmates will be tempted to donate their organs in order to cover up their evils deeds against the society.

Fourthly, the environments in which inmates are usually killed or executed do not permit a thorough medical screening of inmates before they donate the organs. In addition, most medical professionals would not like to work within the execution chambers. Thus, there is a greater risk of donating infected or non-functional organs of inmates who were examined not sufficiently. Thus, organs donated by inmates may not have profound benefits to society. Similarly, various forms of killing inmates, such as electrocution, lethal injection and poisoning, usually lead to destruction of the organs.

Finally, inmates should not be allowed to donate their organs because they have a higher risk factor for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other transmittable diseases. These diseases can be easily transmitted to the patients after receiving organs from infected inmates. Likewise, most inmates are usually on poor diets and less involved in physical exercises. Thus, they are less healthy and fit. This makes them highly prone to diseases. Caplan also asserts that most inmates are usually old and unhealthy (9). Therefore, organs donated by such inmates are also poor in quality and may not be useful. Organs donated by old inmates and transplanted to patients rarely last long.

Although countries, such as China, may have more than sixty percent of annual organ donations harvested from inmates, it is essential to assert that using prisoners as a source of organs is not ethical. Consequently, the Federal Bureau of Prisons should not allow prisoners to donate their organs. Various strategies, such as increased education and awareness on the significance of organ donation, should be deployed to encourage non-prisoners to donate their organs.

Death of Inmates

Furthermore, inmates should not be left to die in prisons. They should be given opportunities to seek medical care services whenever they are sick. However, in case of imposition of the death penalty, inmates should be executed in a humane and respectable manner. Their human rights should not be overlooked merely because they are prisoners.

Question C: Punishment of Criminals by Judges to Satisfy the Public

It is crucial to point out the incorrectness of the statement, because the primary role of the criminal justice system is to provide justice to all people equally and righteously without influence from external forces. If judges would be allowed to do everything they can to punish criminals in order to satisfy the public, then there would be no justice. Thus, judges should critically review the wrongdoings of the criminals before administering judgments. This contributes towards ensuring that suspect criminals who are innocent will not punished wrongfully. The criminal justice system should provide adequate protection to both criminals and members of the public. Judges in the criminal justice system should ensure that they use their powers and authorities appropriately, when punishing criminals; and they should be able to administer justice to all individuals affected by a criminal act. In addition, the goal of the criminal justice system is to provide righteousness and discipline and not to provide unreasonable punishment or reprimand. Thus, it would be wrong for judges to use excessive power, when punishing criminals simply because they want to satisfy the public. Judges should use the criminal justice system to deter, discourage and prevent people from engaging in criminal activities. If the criminal justice system is used inappropriately, its purpose, mission and goals would not be met objectively. Sales also stresses that crime prevention and deterrence do not necessarily mean punishing criminals irrationally through excessive use of power by the law enforcement agencies, but fair treatment of offenders and administration of justice to all parties (31). Thus, appropriate strategies for retribution should be developed and implemented by judges within the criminal justice system.

In relation to the work of judges and public opinion, it is rather arguable that judges should act independently and professionally. The duties and responsibilities of judges should not be influenced or determined by opinions of the public. Similarly, the decisions made by the judges should be independent and autonomous and should not be based on pressure from external forces such as the public. Although the judges should serve the interests of the public, their actions should be independent and free from the influence by any external force. The essential goal of judges, when administering justice, should be provision of adequate protection and security to all people in the society, including suspected criminals. Thus, if judges get tough on criminals due to the public pressure or in order to satisfy the public, then the judges would be biased against criminals. Furthermore, judges should get tough on criminals based on factual findings and sufficient evidences found after conducting thorough investigations about the criminal activities done by the criminals.

Challanges and complexities in the criminal justice system

Although there are numerous complexities and challenges in the criminal justice system that judges face when administering justice, they should act wisely. For example, judges may be forced and tempted to act in accordance with pressure exerted by members of the public. Most judges are usually challenged with meeting the demands of the public or acting in order to satisfy the masses. This is because most legal cases are disputes or struggles between two opposing sides, usually the offender and the offended. However, judges should not act or sentence criminals for punishments in order to satisfy the public, but rather ensure that the law is interpreted effectively and criminals are punished based on available evidences. Judges should not make prejudiced decisions, when pursuing justice for the public. Judges should remain above the fray or public influence and must ensure that justice is administered based on facts. The decisions made by judges about the punishment of criminals must be based on credible evidences. For example, if a suspected criminal is convicted of a crime, a judge should impose an appropriate punishment that directly reflects the severity of the offence. Judges should demonstrate professional expertise and insightfulness by assessing the damages caused by a criminal act, conducting thorough investigations and ordering redress to the offended party or parties without prejudice. Even if the opinion of the public may influence judicial decisions made by judges, the public opinion should not ruin or tamper with credibility of the decisions made by judges. Professional ethics and standards for judges in the criminal justice system dictate that judges should act independently without public influence.  Hence, if judges conform to the public pressure, this would amount to contempt of court and the criminal justice system. Therefore, judges should not be subjected to improper influence from the public, as well as private entities or individuals.

While judges may be tempted to gain public confidence by conforming to the demands of members of society, it is crucial to emphasize that public confidence in the criminal justice system can only be gained through fair and impartial administration of justice, and not satisfying the needs of specific people. Judgments and punishment of criminals should be delivered fairly and in accordance with the law. Only relevant and pertinent facts and the law should be used by judges, when making decisions. According to Nagel, judges should get tough on criminals by sentencing and punishing convicted criminals appropriately. Such sentences and punishments should aim at rehabilitating the criminals and preventing them from criminal recidivism.


The decisions made by judges in the criminal justice system should not be influenced by any external force, regardless of the sources of the force. For example, judges may be pressurized by the public, private organizations, lobby groups, individuals, the government, as well as political and religious leaders. Not considering the pressure from these external sources, judges are obliged to make sound and reasonable decisions and administer justice fairly to all people. The actions and decisions made by judges in the justice systems should be based on facts and the law, and not the public opinion. Regardless of what the public wants, says or demands, judges should act autonomously, independently and in a highly professional manner.

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