CDCR’s genocidal disregard for life-saving measures

A willingness to bring life to a death sentence in prison speaks to a continued commitment to human rights and humanity our caged community members express, yet we out here often refuse to see them.

by Michael Flinner

Greetings,

A few years ago, I discovered that the California Department of Corrections and rehabilitation (CDCr) did not have a legal regulation, policy or protocol in place whereby state prisoners like myself, regardless of our commitment offenses, could lawfully make inducement-free donations of living vital organs, tissues, plasma and/or bone-marrow to our match-worthy, biological, immediate family members in need – blood relatives who might otherwise die without such a procedure. 

I thought to myself, “Self, this needs to change.”

Further research led me to the Federal Bureau of Prison policies where I found a well-oiled, living inmate organ donor policy which affords federal prisoners the means to save a family member in need. Who knew?

This discovery prompted a handful of letters, much like this one, to California lawmakers with a modest proof of concept and deserving plan to assemble a Senate bill, which, absent other alternatives, would be modeled after the existing federal protocol – one whose context benefits the continued lives of others everywhere.

Countless family members of ours languish in wait upon various organ donor registries waiting to die – all while we could and should be doing our parts to save their lives.

After a short wait, I received a reply from California State Sen. Cathleen Galgiani. She had elected to draft the would-be legislation, the likes of which became SB1419. 

Not surprisingly, this effort proved well-received by her colleagues, so much so that it passed through both Public Safety and Senate Health Committees unscathed in short order. 

Once we landed upon the Appropriation Committee desk, however, we were swiftly met with opposition by the infinite wisdom of CDCr’s financial minds who blatantly refused to provide the negligible funding round required to educate prisoners as to their rights as well as train their own state prison employees in this regard – demonstrating an apathetic disregard for the impact and actuality of these life-saving measures.

This deliberate lack of cooperation forced SB1419 to scale itself back to its bare bones, forsaking its mission – living organ donation from state prisoners. 

Despite the dehumanizing aspects of imprisonment and the fearful and downright mean narrative sold to the public by CDCr, prisoners continue to assert their humanity and revolutionary love.

Currently, California state prisoners like myself who’re wishing to make such meaningful contributions may only do so posthumously. A complete enema of sunshine.

In fact, had SB1419 been properly handled its first time around the track, my very own father might be alive today. He died in 2016 needing a lung that I would have given to him to save his precious life. He was my best friend, my mentor and my hero.

Some 2.3 million Americans are incarcerated in this country. Ironically, only a meager slice of us – less than 10 percent – are housed in federal custody. That leaves the remaining roughly 2 million state prisoners systematically precluded from the roles of the willing. 

Countless family members of ours languish in wait upon various organ donor registries waiting to die – all while we could and should be doing our parts to save their lives.

Where success factors are obviously scalable, failing to adopt a national state and federal prisoner protocol which shares these inalienable rights would be profoundly irresponsible. Because the very same degree of success relies upon quality communication, it is my genuine hope and ultimate goal to shift the narrative a bit. 

Prisoners like Michael Flinner continue to challenge much of society’s stubborn view of prisoners as throw-aways, irredeemable and unworthy of our concern. When will we begin to meet that challenge with love and shared humanity to receive the gifts they share and support their return to life outside the walls? Is he not redeemed?

As a contributing proxy of the project itself, I am pushing for social action, political awareness and public policy reform while inviting fresh eyes and ears – techies, bloggers, volunteers, innovative frontline healthcare advocacy and a new legislative partner to re-pilot this deserving initiative to fruition, rather than accepting second best.

That said, there is another element of this project that has become crucial and necessary by design, one which promises to mitigate certain daunting logistics associated with minimizing human costs and communal economic burdens – we’d like to bridge the narrow gap between a licensed plasma recovery agency like the American Red Cross – and CDCr – in an effort to procure antibody-rich plasma from COVID-recovered state prisoners here in California.

While hope and healing remain in short supply, I pray for empathy not apathy. There needs to be a lectern upon which state prisoners across this nation are welcomed into the life-saving conversation as part of the solution, rather than part of the problem. 

We are not all devoid of redeeming qualities. Most of us understand that healing is our shared responsibility.

I encourage you to reach out to me in support of this tribute to love and loss while we work to replace destruction with life. 

If all you can do is unearth a few loose stamps and toss them into the mail for me, several other would-be supporters will receive this letter. 

Like-minded prison reform collaborations considered, and exchanges of trade links, advice and comments welcomed. Postage permitting, I will answer all.

To learn more, visit https://www.facebook.com/Inmate-Organs-2301823190060036/. I can be reached via Twitter, at @inmateorgans, and email, at inmateorgans@web.de. Read the Senate bill at tinyurl.com/SB1419 and watch this 60 Minutes segment: bit.ly/inmateorgans.

Thank You,

Michael

Send our brother some love and light: Michael Flinner, V-30064, CSP-CMF, P.O. Box 2000, Vacaville, CA 95696-2000.