Tennessee Jail Promises Reduced Jail Time For Vasectomy

On May 15, 2017, in move that some are calling one of the many ways to shrink the Black population, General Sessions Judge Sam Benningfield signed a standing order that allows inmates to receive 30 days credit toward jail time if they undergo a birth control procedure.

That procedure would be permanent for men. No more way to recreate if they take this “deal.”

Women who participate in the program are given a Nexplanon implant in their arm, the implant helps prevent pregnancies for up to four years. Men who volunteer to participate are given a vasectomy, free of charge, by the Tennessee Department of Health.

County officials said that since the program began a few months ago 32 women have gotten the Nexplananon implant and 38 men were waiting to have the vasectomy procedure performed.

But the ACLU had this to say about the so-called “deal.” “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 an interview with Tennessee News Station 5, Judge Benningfield said that he was trying to break a vicious cycle of repeat offenders who constantly come into his courtroom on drug related charges, subsequently can’t afford child support and have trouble finding jobs.

“I hope to encourage them to take personal responsibility and give them a chance, when they do get out, to not to be burdened with children. This gives them a chance to get on their feet and make something of themselves,” Judge Benningfield said in an interview.

First elected in 1998, Judge Benningfield decided to implement the program after speaking with officials at the Tennessee Department of Health.