TENNESSEE JUDGE: GET STERILIZED AND I’LL CUT JAIL TIME
A judge in central Tennessee is hoping to help repeat offenders “make something of themselves” by offering them a highly original and probably unconstitutional deal: reduced jail time in exchange for sterilization operations.
Under a standing order issued in May by Judge Sam Benningfield, inmates in White County, Tenn., can receive 30 days credit toward jail time if they volunteer for vasectomies or contraceptive implants.
So far 32 women have received implants, and 38 men have signed up to receive vasectomies. The procedures are reportedly being performed for free by the Tennessee Department of Health.
Inmates also were offered a twoday credit if they completed a neonatal class designed to educate them about the dangers of having children while using drugs.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee cried foul on the order, saying judges should not play a role in a person’s ability to procreate. “Offering a so-called ‘choice’ between jail time and coerced contraception or sterilization is unconstitutional,” said Hedy Weinberg, group executive director.