St. Lucy's Priory High School

Defund inmates’ elective surgeries

Every two weeks, Americans across the nation recognize the sound of a tearing envelope and rustling of folded papers inside, followed by a sigh of disbelief with a hint of resentment. These all-too-familiar events transpire each payday as workers fork over a portion of their earnings to federal and state taxes.

Despite these initial reactions, citizens of the United States find solace in the fact that taxation is an essential component of democracy. More specifically, it is the duty of all Americans to support the government through taxes in exchange for public services such as universal education, highway maintenance, or even prison systems.

Ultimately, the institution of obligatory taxation proves acceptable when such funds work for the common good of all people.

Prison systems throughout the nation serve a two-fold purpose: to protect and rehabilitate. Evidently, detaining those individuals who fail to comply with the law preserves the well-being of the remainder of the public.

Furthermore, the primary intent of imprisonment is to restore former criminals into contributing members of society upon release.

Based on these truths, correctional facilities fulfill an essential public service, thereby qualifying as an appropriate use of tax revenue.

However, a decision by California prison officials to allow inmate Rodney Quine to undergo gender reassignment surgery at the expense of California taxpayers clearly constitutes a misuse of tax dollars.

Convicted for murder in 1980, Quine will now be transferred to a women’s facility under the name Shiloh, as the first prisoner to receive this $40,000 procedure.

The underlying issue in the case of Shiloh Quine is not rooted in her freedom to choose to alter her own body, but in the fact that gender reassignment surgery is not a medical necessity. It is an elective procedure and is in no way essential for overall health, therefore not the responsibility of California taxpayers.

Gender reassignment surgery for inmates like Quine undermines the purpose of taxation. It fails to benefit those who actually forfeit a percentage of their paycheck every two weeks.

In the words of Farida Baig, the daughter of Quine’s victim, “My dad begged for his life. I am helping pay for his (Quine) surgery. I live in California.”

Beyond the scope of transsexual inmates, this argument holds true when considering any other form of cosmetic surgery, from lip augmentation to laser hair removal. None of these procedures, if ignored, would qualify as “cruel and unusual punishment” as would neglecting regular teeth cleanings or treatment for illnesses among incarcerated individuals.

Evidently, the use of tax dollars to pay for elective procedures for criminals qualifies as an inexcusable disservice to law-abiding citizens.

Rather than investing in government programs that benefit society as a whole, California’s decision to fund unnecessary surgery for prisoners cripples the goal of democracy by blatantly ignoring the needs of the majority.

–Katelyn Ray