February 17, 2012

S.C. panel: No public cash for inmate sex changes

2-17-2012 South Carolina:

COLUMBIA -- A South Carolina legislative panel on Thursday advanced a bill to prohibit state money from being used for sex change surgeries for inmates – a move opponents said brings them one step closer to a lawsuit challenging the legislation.

Under current policy, the South Carolina Department of Corrections is obligated to pay for hormonal treatment and surgery for inmates who come into the prison system during the sex-change process. According to agency spokesman Clark Newsom, no inmates have actually undergone the surgery in prison, and only one has asked for it, later changing his mind after counseling.

After a brief debate, a Senate subcommittee on Thursday approved a bill that would overturn that policy by removing public money from the equation. Senators did amend the legislation to allow inmates currently on hormonal therapy to continue treatment while in prison.

“If you come in on hormonal treatment, you stay on it,” said Sen. Paul Campbell, R-Goose Creek. “You don’t start on it once you’re in.”

Legislators discussing the bill, including sponsor Kevin Bryant, said their concern was potential costs for treatment and surgery. For one inmate, Campbell said, hormone treatment costs between $300 and $1,000 per year.

Currently, only one of South Carolina’s more than 22,000 inmates is on hormonal treatment, Bryant said. ..Source.. by Meg Kinnard

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