Tennessee Judge Offers Inmates An Unconstitutional Ultimatum
Just when I think the justice system can’t get any more lawless than it actually is, some fool with a gavel or legislative power forgets that the people they incarcerated are, in fact, real people and not cattle. Most recently, the fool with the gavel is a judge from Tennessee who offered repeated offenders a ‘deal’: a month of off jail if inmates agree to become sterilized.
In his plan for inmates to “make something of themselves”, Judge Sam Benningfield issued 30 days reduced from the sentences of inmates who undergo vasectomies or receive the Nexplanon hormonal implant in a court order in May. Thirty-two women and 38 men have already signed up for the procedures. They were also offered two- day credit if they attended a neonatal class for the purpose of educating them on the dangers of drug use while caring for a child.
These court orders seem to me like one step forward and two steps back for reproductive rights and inmate civil rights. On one hand you have people taking classes to become better parents. The classes are a great start at furthering education programs and promoting rehabilitation within the prison system.The problem lies in the the fact that potential fathers can only become fertile again by going under the knife again and paying thousands of dollars to do so.
This ‘deal’ is less of a deal and more of an ultimatum: sterilize yourself and you’ll get a month off. The deal is disguised as a choice the prisoners can make, but is it really that much of a choice? How many of us wouldn’t go under the knife for time taken off your sentence?