Tennessee Inmates Given Reduced Sentences in Exchange for Vasectomies, Birth Control

This July 1, 2016 photo shows a jail cell inside the decades-old Crook County Jail in Prineville, Ore. "It's pretty much a dungeon," prisoner Anthony Kinsey, jailed on methamphetamine charges, said over the phone. "There are four people in each cell; it’s real crowded. The toilet is right by your …
AP File Photo/Andrew Selsky

Inmates in a Tennessee county are being given an option: free vasectomies or birth control implants for reduced sentences.

General Sessions Judge Sam Benningfield signed a standing order in May permitting prisoners in White County, TN to get 30 days credit toward their jail time if they voluntarily agreed to undergo one of the birth control procedures, News Channel 5 reports.

Women who agree to participate receive a free Nexplanon birth control arm implant, which helps prevent pregnancies up to four years, while men are given free vasectomies by the Tennessee Department of Health.

According to its manufacturer, Nexplanon implants can be removed by a trained healthcare professional at any time. As for vasectomies, while there is always a risk a procedure cannot be reversed, vasectomy reversals are commonly performed.

So far, 32 women and 38 men have already undergone or agreed to the procedures.

Benningfield is trying to end the “vicious cycle of repeat offenders who constantly come to his courtroom on drug related charges.” These individuals “subsequently can’t afford child support and have trouble finding jobs.”

“I hope to encourage them to at some point finally take personal responsibility and to give them a chance, if when they do get out, not be burdened again with additional children, said Benningfield in an interview.

The American Civil Liberties Union has condemned the program, among others, calling it “unconstitutional.” An ACLU statement released on Wednesday reads:

Offering a so-called ‘choice’ between jail time and coerced contraception or sterilization is unconstitutional. Such a choice violates the fundamental constitutional right to reproductive autonomy and bodily integrity by interfering with the intimate decision of whether and when to have a child, imposing an intrusive medical procedure on individuals who are not in a position to reject it. Judges play an important role in our community – overseeing individuals’ childbearing capacity should not be part of that role.

In addition to the month credit, two days credit is additionally being offered to inmates who complete a Tennessee Department of Health “Neonatal Syndrome Education Program,” which aims to educate on the dangers of having children under the influence of drugs.

“I understand it won’t be entirely successful but if you reach two or three people, maybe that’s two or three kids not being born under the influence of drugs. I see it as a win, win,” Benningfield added.

Amanda House is Breitbart News’ Deputy Political Editor. She can be followed on Twitter at @AmandaLeeHouse.


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