Sunday, December 21, 2014

Federal Appeals Court Ruling: Court Denies Inmate’s Sex-Change Surgery

A divided federal Appeals Court in Boston on Tuesday overturned a lower court’s ruling that a Massachusetts prison inmate serving a life sentence for killing her spouse is entitled to sex-change surgery funded by taxpayers.
The 3-2 ruling from the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the First Circuit reversed a 2012 decision by US District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf, who ordered the surgery after finding the state’s failure to provide it to Michelle Kosilek, 65, violated the Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment.
Kosilek is serving a life sentence at MCI-Norfolk for killing her wife, Cheryl McCaul, in 1990, when Kosilek was known as Robert. She has lived as a woman in prison, and The Boston Globe identifies her as female because that is her preference.
“After carefully considering the community standard of medical care, the adequacy of the provided treatment, and the valid security concerns articulated by the DOC [Department of Correction], we conclude that the district court erred,” Judge Juan R. Torruella wrote in the majority opinion.
Joseph L. Sulman, an attorney for Kosilek, blasted the ruling. He said Kosilek has not decided whether to seek a hearing before the US Supreme Court, which would be her final avenue of appeal.
“It’s a tragic decision on a personal level for Michelle Kosilek,” Sulman said. “But on a more global level, it’s a horrendous decision for many reasons. . . . It invites the Department of Correction to hire outside experts [to tesify against an inmate] whenever they want to deny a prisoner medical treatment.”
Read the rest of the story HERE.

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