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More Families Come Forward Claiming Deceased Inmates Had Organs Removed Without Their Consent

In Alabama, two families faced distressing revelations when they discovered that the organs of their deceased relatives, who were inmates, were removed without their consent. This discovery came after the deaths of the inmates at different correctional facilities managed by the Alabama Department of Corrections. These incidents spurred lawsuits accusing the state's Department of Corrections and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), which conducts autopsies for the prison system, of removing organs for teaching purposes without proper authorization. The inmates whose organs went missing are Jim Kennedy Jr., Arthur Stapler, Anthony Perez Brackins, and Kelvin Moore.

"It's the wild, wild west. There's no governance," Lauren Brinkley-Rubinstein, an associate professor at the Duke University School of Medicine and an expert on prison standards. "It's like, the provision of health care. No standards. What that health care should look like, who has bodily autonomy and who doesn't, and who, when someone dies, acts as next of kin to people who are incarcerated – all those things are just undefined. There's no standard and there's no oversight."

The revelation first came to light when a family member was informed by a funeral home that his relative's body had returned from the autopsy without major organs. This prompted the family to seek answers from UAB, only to receive parts of the organs later in plastic bags, with some missing or returned in pieces. The situation escalated with allegations from multiple families, leading to legal actions citing gross misconduct involving unauthorized retention and possible misuse of the organs.

These alarming incidents highlight severe oversight and ethical issues within the state's handling of inmates' bodies and their medical treatment post-mortem. The state's correctional facilities, already under scrutiny by the U.S. Justice Department for various violations, including excessive force and inadequate protection against violence, now face additional scrutiny over these organ retention practices. 

"If organs are being removed for donation for medical education, research or any other purpose without appropriate authorization that is both a legal failing and a moral failing," said Brendan Parent, a lawyer and director of the transplant ethics and policy research program at NYU Langone.

The lawsuits highlight significant concerns about the lack of consent and transparency in how inmate autopsies and organ removals are handled, raising serious questions about the practices at UAB and the oversight by Alabama's Department of Corrections.

Link: CNN 


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