TEN­NESSEE JUDGE: GET STER­IL­IZED AND I’LL CUT JAIL TIME

The Denver Post - - NATION & WORLD -

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.

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