Judge gets reprimand for granting jail sentence reductions for vasectomies

White County General Sessions Jud Sam Benningfied has been reprimanded by the state Board of Judicial Conduct for offering jail inmates 30 days off their time behind bars for getting vasectomies or birth control implants, reports The Tennessean.

Bennifield’s order authorizing sentence reductions for long-term birth control measures was issued in May and rescinded in July after protests. It has led to at least two lawsuits against the judge and the White County sheriff, who oversees the jail in Sparta.

A letter posted on the Board’s public website (HERE) says the judge’s actions threatened confidence in the judicial system.

“You have acknowledged that even though (sic) your were trying to accomplish a worthy goal in preventing the birth of substance addicted babies by the entry of your order of May 15, 2017, you now realize that this order could unduly coerce inmates into undergoing a surgical procedure which would cause at least a temporary sterilization, and it was therefore improper,” the letter states.

Alex Friedmann, a former inmate who is now the associate director of the Human Rights Defense Center and managing editor of Prison Legal News, filed a complaint against Benningfield. Friedmann praised the board’s decision to reprimand the judge.

“Prisoners are a vulnerable population who are especially susceptible to such coercive incentives because they want to return to their families and are at risk of losing their jobs and housing the longer they are incarcerated,” Friedmann said.

…A federal lawsuit filed in August accuses Benningfield of acting with White County Sheriff Oddie Shoupe to carry out a “modern day eugenics scheme.” Mario Williams, an attorney in the federal lawsuit, said 42 men agreed to the order.

2 Responses to Judge gets reprimand for granting jail sentence reductions for vasectomies

  • Linda says:

    I stand with the judge on this issue.

  • Kay White says:

    I think this should be looked into more. This might not be such a bad ideal. Face it, Drug addiction is rampant. Little Babies do not need to be born addicted and suffer the paid and anguish that they have to go through. Also most of these men do not want to have children and if they do, they have no intensions of supporting them so they like many of their parents before them, become dependent on State resources to survive. This would certainly prevent pregnancies from rape if more men were changes from “Bulls to Steers”!

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