Lawsuit filed over White County jail inmate birth control program

From an Associated Press report:

A Tennessee sheriff and judge violated the constitutional rights of jail inmates by promising to reduce their sentences if they underwent birth control procedures, an ex-inmate says in a federal lawsuit.

Christel Ward was among the misdemeanor-level White County Jail inmates who took the deal, according to the lawsuit. She said Thursday that she still has the unwanted birth control device in her arm that authorities injected in her.

“I want this out of my arm, and I’m still not allowed to get it out until I pay,” Ward said at a news conference. “I can’t come up with $250 to get this out.”

Mike Donovan, president of the group Nexus Services Inc. that is funding the lawsuit filed Wednesday in Nashville, said White County, Sheriff Oddie Shoupe, Deputy Donna Daniels and Judge Sam Benningfield were “playing God” by offering inmates 30-day sentence reductions in exchange for receiving free sterilization procedures. Donovan called it a policy of eugenics. 

In July, the judge rescinded the two-month-old policy amid pushback from the state Health Department, the American Civil Liberties Union and some lawmakers.

The lawsuit says men were offered vasectomies and women were offered the birth control implant Nexplanon, which lasts three to five years.

After Ward received the implant, officials denied her the promised jail-time reduction, according to the lawsuit. When she asked for the procedure to be reversed, the suit says, they said it would cost her $250 dollars.

Note: Previous post HERE.

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Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.
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