[Editor's note: the full text of the DOC decision follows]
BOSTON – Sen. Richard T. Moore, D-Uxbridge, applauded news that the Patrick Administration will appeal a landmark federal court ruling requiring the state to pay for a sex change operation for convicted murderer Michelle Kosilek, calling the decision “a victory for the taxpayers.”
Early in September, U.S. District Court Judge Mark Wolf ordered the state to pay for Kosilek’s sex change surgery. Judge Wolf also ruled that the state was responsible for Kosilek's legal fees incurred over the past twelve years in seeking the operation over the objections of Corrections officials.
Kosilek, who changed her name from Robert and is currently serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for strangling and murdering her wife in 1990, successfully sued the state for a sex reassignment surgery in federal court. Wolf ruled that Kosilek was entitled to the taxpayer-funded surgery because it was the only appropriate form of care for a person like her with gender-identity disorder who has attempted to harm herself in the past. The surgery and legal bills could costs the state hundreds of thousands of dollars and would set a new precedent for inmate care.
Moore said that he believed the Department of Correction’s (DOC) decision to appeal Kosilek’s request and the federal court decision “basic common sense, and the right thing to do.”
Moore was among the fifty Massachusetts lawmakers who joined with Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, urging DOC Commissioner Luis Spencer earlier this month urging his department to appeal the decision.
“Requiring the state to fund a medical procedure that is unaffordable to many law-abiding private citizens and unavailable to those receiving medical coverage from the state to placate the demands of a convicted murderer undermines the public’s confidence in government and our institutions of corrections and justice,” Sen. Moore stated.
The DOC issued a statement this week stating that, “following a thorough review of the decision, we believe the court failed to give due deference to the fact that the Department has and continues to provide adequate medical treatment to address inmate Kosilek’s gender identity disorder. We also found the opinion improperly discredits the legitimate safety concerns trained correctional professionals testified will arise if sex reassignment surgery is performed.”
For more information on Sen. Moore’s work in the area of public safety, visit www.senatormoore.com, or follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/senatormoore.
Full text: DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS statement:
September 26, 2012--The Massachusetts Department of Correction will appeal the federal district court's ruling in the Kosilek vs. Spencer case. Following a thorough review of the decision, we believe the court failed to give due deference to the fact that the Department has and continues to provide adequate medical treatment to address inmate Kosilek's gender identity disorder. We also found the opinion improperly discredits the legitimate safety concerns trained correctional professionals testified will arise if sex reassignment surgery is performed. The Department's argument will not center on whether this surgery is a necessary and appropriate treatment for an individual with this particular disorder. Our responsibilities lie with providing certain levels of medical treatment and keeping the inmates in our care and the public at large safe. We believe appealing this decision will allow us to meet those critical responsibilities.