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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Strategic CSR - Blood money

The article in the url below reveals an innovative approach to increasing blood donations (while also reducing the prison population):
"Judge Marvin Wiggins's courtroom was packed on a September morning. The docket listed hundreds of offenders who owed fines or fees for a wide variety of crimes — hunting after dark, assault, drug possession and passing bad checks among them. 'Good morning, ladies and gentlemen,' began Judge Wiggins, a circuit judge here in rural Alabama since 1999. 'For your consideration, there's a blood drive outside,' he continued, according to a recording of the hearing. 'If you don't have any money, go out there and give blood and bring in a receipt indicating you gave blood.' For those who had no money or did not want to give blood, the judge concluded: 'The sheriff has enough handcuffs.'"
The benefits for people who could not otherwise pay their fines quickly became apparent:
"The dozens of offenders who showed up that day, old and young, filed out of the Perry County courthouse and waited their turn at a mobile blood bank parked in the street. They were told to bring a receipt to the clerk showing they had given a pint of blood, and in return they would receive a $100 credit toward their fines — and be allowed to go free."
Not surprisingly, forcing poor people to bear the burden of providing essential medical supplies has been widely criticized:
"Efforts by courts and local governments to generate revenue by imposing fines for minor offenses, particularly from poor and working-class people, have attracted widespread attention and condemnation in recent months. But legal and health experts said they could not think of another modern example of a court all but ordering offenders to give blood in lieu of payment, or face jail time. They all agreed that it was improper. 'What happened is wrong in about 3,000 ways,' said Arthur L. Caplan, a professor of medical ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center, part of New York University. 'You're basically sentencing someone to an invasive procedure that doesn't benefit them and isn't protecting the public health.'"
But, at least someone is innovating to correct for the societal failure to contribute to the broad well-being of the community (in terms of blood donations). Research shows that creative public policy can have a positive effect. For example, a simple opt-out approach to organ donation in Canada (where you participate unless you choose not to do so) has been shown to increase participation greatly over the current opt-in approach employed in the U.S. (where you only participate if you specifically choose to do so). Mind you, if a pint of blood will now keep you out of jail in Alabama, I wonder what you can get for donating a kidney?
Take care
David Chandler & Bill Werther
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For Offenders Who Can't Pay, It's a Pint of Blood or Jail Time
By Campbell Robertson
October 20, 2015
The New York Times
Late Edition – Final