There was outrage earlier this week when it was reported that a man sentenced to 18-to-40-years for sexually assaulting a teenage relative was being considered for a costly heart transplant. The procedure was to cost taxpayers $800,000 by some estimates, but would have extended the life of one Kenneth Pike, 55, who was flown from the state prison in Coxsackie to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, where 49 patients are awaiting donor hearts. He would have been the first New York prisoner to get the costly procedure, the Post reports, but now he's had a (sorry!) change of heart.

"He's decided he don't [sic] want it," Pike's sister tells KOKI-TV. "He doesn't want the heart transplant and I have to stick by his decision." Apparently Pike's decision was informed by his belief that he'll never see the outside of prison no matter how long he lives. "He doesn't want to live this life no more [sic], which I understand," says his sister. "I totally agree with that 'cause I know he's innocent... I know he's an inmate. He's still a human being. He should be treated like a human being."

During his trial, one prosecutor said Pike was so "grotesquely criminal" that he should "rot in prison." But the possibility of a transplant raised an interesting debate about what counts as cruel and unusual punishment. If some criminals are so loathsome that they shouldn't qualify for such costly medical procedures, where do we draw the line at giving them any care? Is there a certain dollar amount past which we should just let convicts die?