Gov. Jerry Brown will not interfere with a Board of Parole Hearings’ recommendation that a transgender inmate be paroled and lose the chance to force the state to pay for sex-change surgery.
Judge Jon Tigar ruled in April that the state should provide the surgery for Jeffrey Bryan Norsworthy, who now goes by Michelle-Lael Norsworth. According to Joyce Hayhoe, spokeswoman for California Corrections Health Care Services, the surgery would cost the state up to $100,000.
In May, hours after the parole board recommended that Norsworthy be paroled, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals delayed the surgery, stating, “Also weighing in favor of a stay here is the likelihood that, absent a stay, this litigation would become moot before receiving full appellate consideration.” As parole board spokesman Luis Patino explained, once the governor tacitly accepts an inmate’s parole, the inmate is released within a week, which means that the delay for Norsworthy’s surgery will let the state off the hook for the cost.
Norsworthy, 51, shot Franklin Gordon Liefer Jr. to death 30 years ago. Norsworthy was 21 and Liefer 26 when they argued in a Fullerton bar, precipitating the fatal shooting. Liefer died six weeks later; Norsworthy was convicted of second-degree murder.
Norsworthy started taking female hormones in 1999; in 2012 Norsworth queried the corrections department about funding the sex-change surgery.
Another inmate, Rodney James Quine, 56, who goes by Shiloh Quine, found out Friday that the state will fund sex-change surgery. Corrections department spokesman Jeffrey Callison stated, “CDCR evaluates every case individually, and in the Quine case, every medical doctor and mental health clinician who has reviewed this case, including two independent mental health experts, determined that this surgery is medically necessary for Quine.”
Quine is in prison for life for committing murder, kidnapping and robbery.