A Tennessee jail has offered inmates time off their sentences in exchange for forfeiting their reproductive rights.
Click here to help ban coercive sterilization in your state.
In May 2017, Tennessee Judge Sam Benningfield issued a standing order for the White County Jail in the city of Sparta. Inmates at WCJ who undergo “voluntary” birth control procedures -- temporary Nexplanon implants in the case of female inmates, and permanent vasectomies in the case of males -- can receive a 30-day time reduction on their jail sentences. According to a public statement made by the American Civil Liberties Union, this mandate violates the fundamental constitutional right to reproductive autonomy by “imposing an intrusive medical procedure on individuals who are not in a position to reject it.”
The White County Sheriff's Department reports that at least 32 women have already had the procedure and 38 men have signed up to undergo a vasectomy. The procedures are free and conducted by the Tennessee Department of Health.
This is by far not Tennessee’s first encounter with sterilizing people serving time in jail and prison. In 2015, a Nashville woman suffering from mental illness was offered a plea deal under the condition that she agree to be sterilized.
In 2014, the state of California was the first to explicitly ban the coercive sterilization of inmates after investigative reports revealed 39 women in the state had been illegally sterilized in prison without proper consent.
Incarcerated people have a clear desire for freedom, which impedes their ability to make objective, informed decisions when confronted with ultimatums that offer reduced sentencing. Pressuring any vulnerable population into making permanent reproductive choices without informed consent is a clear violation of our most basic human rights.
Click here to send this message to members of your your state legislature:
As a constituent, I urge you to ban the coerced sterilization of inmates and people under correctional control. The coerced contraception of incarcerated people violates the fundamental constitutional right to reproductive autonomy by imposing an intrusive medical procedure on individuals who are not in a position to reject it. Pressuring any vulnerable population into making permanent reproductive choices without informed consent is a clear violation of our most basic human rights.
After signing the petition, please use the tools on the next webpage to share it with your friends.
This work is only possible with your financial support. Please chip in $3 now.
-- The RootsAction.org Team
P.S. RootsAction is an independent online force endorsed by Jim Hightower, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, Bill Fletcher Jr., Laura Flanders, former U.S. Senator James Abourezk, Frances Fox Piven, Lila Garrett, Phil Donahue, Sonali Kolhatkar, and many others.
> What Is Nexplanon?
> The Tennessean: A dead baby, an ill mother and a DA's intervention
> NBC News: California Bans Sterilization of Female Inmates Without Consent