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Why should the Department of Correction pay for sex-change operations for transgender inmates?
Robert J. Kosilek, an inmate serving a life in prison sentence for murdering his wife, has caused quite a debate. After two lawsuits and two trials, it now rests in the hands of a federal judge as to whether or not the DOC should pay for inmates to have sex-change operations. Kosilek legally changed his first name to Michelle in 1993, says he is a woman trapped in a man’s body. According to the AP story a court has never ordered a sex-change for an inmate in this country.

Death Penalty Upheld. The California Supreme Court has upheld the conviction and death sentence of an Oakland man who killed a bartender during a 20-day crime spree in 1988/89. The story by San Francisco Chronicle reporter Bob Egelko reported that the defendant planned to appeal his Batson claim, which was rejected in the state court's decision.

An Oregon law that makes it a crime to disobey a police officer was upheld by that state's Supreme Court yesterday according to a story by Oregonian reporter Ashbel S. Green. The Court's unanimous decision in Oregon v. Illig-Renn is available here.


That the sex-change suit has caused quite a debate speaks volumes about the expansion of court-supervision of the treatment (medical and otherwise) of state prisoners. In a rational system, such a lawsuit would be subject to an immediate dismissal and Rule 11 sanctions.

Not so fast. A federal judge may well find that prison inmates have a constitutional right to conjugal relations with other inmates. This right may emanate from one of the penumbras.

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