A 'choice' between jail time...or temporary sterilization'

Mar 5, 2018

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  The State Senate has passed a bill that would keep Tennessee courts from making birth control a part of sentencing agreements.

The measure comes in response to revelations last year that a White County judge was offering reduced sentences to defendants who agreed to have birth control procedures.

Credit doj.gov

General Sessions Judge Sam Benningfield offered 30 day reductions on jail time in exchange for men having vasectomies and women getting long-lasting birth control implants.

Benningfield called the program a “no brainer” for the drug offenders who make up the majority of the cases he hears.

The judge ended the practice under public pressure and was eventually reprimanded by state judicial officials.

Knoxville Republican Richard Briggs spoke in opposition to the bill, citing the problem of drug addicted mothers.

“The judge, I think, in the interest of the state and in the interest of the people, in the interest of the mother, and in the interest of the children, and future children, should say ‘You’re not going to have any more kids until you get your problem under control.”

Fellow Republican Brian Kelsey sponsored the bill in the Senate.

“They’re putting these criminal defendants in a tough position when they have to make the choice between jail time or even temporary sterilization, and that’s just not the type of coercive decision we should be putting people in the place of making

Of the Senate’s 33 Senators, ten either voted against the measure or abstained.

The measure is currently moving through the committee process in the Tennessee House.