Massachusetts Taxpayers on the Hook for Inmate’s Sex Change & Attorneys’ Fees

In September, Federal Judge Mark Wolf ruled that the state officials must provide a taxpayer-funded sex change operation for convicted murderer who suffers from a gender identity disorder. The judge ruled that because the sex change had been prescribed by the Department of Corrections doctors as the only adequate treatment, and the only arguments against it were social bias, there was no legitimate penological purpose for denying the procedure. The cost of the surgery may approach $50,000.

“This fact that sex reassignment surgery is for some people medically necessary has recently become more widely recognized,” Wolf wrote in a landmark 127-page ruling. “Denying adequate medical care because of a fear of controversy or criticism from politicians, the press, and the public serves no legitimate penological purpose. It is precisely the type of conduct the Eighth Amendment prohibits.”

Now, three months later, Judge Wolf is ordering the state to pay more than $700,000 in legal fees to the attorneys who represented Michelle Kosilek, the convicted murderer, throughout this ordeal. He noted that resistance by the Department of Corrections often leads to significant taxpayer-funded attorneys fees in cases where the Department violated prisoners’ constitutional rights.

Based on the highly controversial nature of this story, we can expect an appeal by the Department of Corrections, and certainly even more outrage by many of our state’s taxpayers.

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