Lawsuit: Sterilization for sentencing breaks violated rights

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – A federal lawsuit claims a Tennessee sheriff and judge violated inmates’ constitutional rights by reducing their jail time if they underwent birth control procedures.

Mike Donovan, whose group Nexus Services Inc. is funding the lawsuit, said during a news conference Thursday that White County, Sheriff Oddie Shoupe, Deputy Donna Daniels and Judge Sam Benningfield pushed a policy that amounts to eugenics.

The lawsuit says Christel Ward and other misdemeanor-level White County Jail inmates were offered 30-day sentence reductions for free sterilization procedures. Men were offered vasectomies and women were offered the birth control implant Nexplanon, which lasts three to five years.

Benningfield rescinded the program last month.

The lawsuit says officials denied Ward the promised jail-time reduction after her implant.

Shoupe’s office didn’t immediately return a phone message for comment.

Related: Tennessee judge offers vasectomy option to reduce sentences

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