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Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014

Inmate's health is costing taxpayers

Friday, June 20, 2003

Horacio Reyes-Camarena sits on death row in Oregon. It does no good to recount the murder that put him there. And it does no good to discuss the overwhelming evidence that convinced a jury to sentence him to death instead of life in prison. None of that really matters. In fact, for the most part, Camarena is tragically identical to hundreds and hundreds of other murderers who are awaiting their death. But for Camarena, there is a slight difference. Camarena has kidney failure.

Because of his health condition, the taxpayers of Oregon must pay $120,000 annually for dialysis for this death row inmate. The courts estimate that through appeals, Camarena could remain on death row for another 10 years. Do the math!

But now Camarena has reluctantly - reluctantly - agreed to a kidney transplant. That would eliminate the cost of dialysis for taxpayers. The cost of the kidney transplant of course would also be paid for by taxpayers. Did I mention that the Oregon state budget is so strapped for money that schools there closed early this year to save the state money?

Many law-abiding Oregon kidney patients are being turned down for transplants because of the initial cost and the expensive drugs that are required following the transplant. But by law that does not apply to Camarena.

When a society treats death row inmates better than the whole of society, something is tragically wrong. And ironically, if Camarena changes his mind, the regular dialysis will continue until he dies by nature or dies in the electric chair. I did mention about the school closings didn't I?

To most of us, the time from a jury's decision to the final resolution is beyond our imagination. If this death row murderer can expect by conservative estimates another 10 years for his appeals to run their course, I believe the system is seriously broken. Don't feed me the tripe about the innocent men on death row. I don't want to listen to that stale and lame argument.

Oregon taxpayers deserve better. The students of that state deserve better. And society - in this case in Oregon - needs to demand an end to the asinine process by which justice is carried out in this nation.

If you want to exhibit rage over something, look to the death row of Oregon.



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