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July 23, 2017

Reduced jail time in Tennessee for inmates who ... agree to vasectomy or birth control implant!?!?!

This local story out of Tennessee is hard to believe, but it does not appear to be fake news.  The story is headlined "White County Inmates Given Reduced Jail Time If They Get Vasectomy," and here are excerpts:

Inmates in White County, Tennessee have been given credit for their jail time if they voluntarily agree to have a vasectomy or birth control implant, a popular new program that is being called “unconstitutional” by the ACLU.

On May 15, 2017 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. Women who volunteer to participate in the program are given a free 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.

Judge Benningfield told NewsChannel 5 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. “I understand it won’t be entirely successful but if you reach two or three people, maybe that’s two or three kids not being born under the influence of drugs. I see it as a win, win,” he added.

Inmates in the White County jail were also given two days credit toward their jail sentence if they complete a State of Tennessee, Department of Health Neonatal Syndrome Education Program. The class aimed to educate those who are incarcerated about the dangers of having children while under the influence of drugs. “Hopefully while they’re staying here we rehabilitate them so they never come back,” the judge said.

District Attorney Bryant Dunaway, who oversees prosecution of cases in White County is worried the program may be unethical and possibly illegal. “It’s concerning to me, my office doesn’t support this order,” Dunaway said....

On Wednesday, the ACLU released this statement on the program: "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."

There are many thing so very remarkable about this story, but I am especially struck by how many jail inmates are willing to undergo a life-changing procedure simply to avoid 30 days in jail. Anyone who doubts the coercive pressures of even a short jail stay (say because of an inability to make bail) should be shown this story.

July 23, 2017 at 04:43 AM | Permalink


Nothing that happens in the US "Justice" system surprises me anymore. I see you are now deporting the Irish - that should go down well too! http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-40332646

Posted by: peter | Jul 23, 2017 6:26:22 AM

Kinder than summary ☠️ execution or Night & Fog 😳

Posted by: Docile/Kind Soul® in OR | Jul 23, 2017 9:18:31 AM

Its not fake news. Its typical nutty, rural Tennessee judges who want to save us.

David Louis Raybin
Raybin & Weissman P.C.
Fifth Third Center / Suite 2120, 424 Church Street / Nashville, Tennessee 37219
Phone: 615-256-6666 Ext. 220 / Fax: 615-254-4254
E-Mail: DRAYBIN@NashvilleTnLaw.com / Website: www.NashvilleTnLaw.com

Posted by: david raybin | Jul 23, 2017 10:25:39 AM

"... struck by ho many jail inmates are willing to undergo a life-changing procedure simply to avoid 30 days in jail."

Harvard Law grad has contempt for the judgement of inmates. He is not better nor even any smarter than they are. For example, let him survive in their neighborhood for a week. Many are making more money than he is, when not in prison. They may be losing tens of thousands of dollars in 30 days in prison. Many also have 10 kids already by different baby mothers. They have more energy, brains, and enterprise than credited.

Appellate court judge elitists reversing this sentence should be run out of the state.

The prevention of 10 more kids by these criminals has $millions of value to us all in prevented damages and tax costs.

Posted by: David Behar | Jul 23, 2017 11:07:34 AM

The prosecutor is freaking out about the future of his budget, if crime is prevented, and about his job.

Posted by: David Behar | Jul 23, 2017 11:10:44 AM

"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.*

Why did I read that and then think, "actually, the judge means he doesn't want society to be burdened with what he sees as subhuman beings"?

Oh, because David Behar that's why.

Which once again proves Doug's axiom that as crazy as David is he's not the only nutcase around. Some of them are even judges and US Attorney General.

Posted by: Daniel | Jul 23, 2017 12:11:54 PM

This is all very Buck v. Bell, which if I recall correctly has never actually been overruled, despite being up there with Dred Scott, Plessy, Korematsu, Bowers, etc., as one of the worst all time SCOTUS decisions.

This could be a great test case.

Posted by: Anon | Jul 23, 2017 12:15:51 PM


I have a question I would like to ask you. Do criminals with vasectomies taste better on the table than criminals who have not had vasectomies? I ask because eating the poor has a long and storied tradition in the West and I am curious as to whether there might be some underlying gastronomical motive on the judge's part. If he did it might make his modest proposal a wee bit more acceptable.

Posted by: Daniel | Jul 23, 2017 12:16:10 PM


The obvious distinction is that Buck involved involuntary sterilization while in this case the sterilization are--at least nominally--voluntary. Whether the decisions are pragmatically voluntary is a different question and one that I think can easily enough be resolved under SCOTUS 4A precedent. (Hint: they are not.)

Posted by: Daniel | Jul 23, 2017 12:21:50 PM

Daniel. What an excellent question. I oppose all forms of cannibalism, especially of disease ridden meats.

Calling people who dissent from your sicko, pro-criminal views, crazy brings up a professional responsibility question, in your case.

Posted by: David Behar | Jul 23, 2017 12:33:24 PM


I don't disagree with any of your comments. The interesting question here is how, not whether, the current SCOTUS would strike this down. Conservative Catholics are strongly opposed to eugenics (and birth control for that matter), and liberals obviously don't like state coercion in reproductive matters. But the legal reasoning would be interesting.

@David Behar, "Three generations of [criminals] are enough."

Posted by: Anon | Jul 23, 2017 1:48:00 PM

Anon. OW Holmes has never ever been wrong.

An article criticized his support of the felony murder rule. It contained an arithmetic error. When corrected, the data supported OW.

Posted by: David Behar | Jul 23, 2017 1:54:01 PM

I love the idea, it may help the addicts when they get out, but definitely helps society.

I agree, trade 30 days in jail for a vasectomy. Ouch, hmm.

Judge keep up the good work, need productive ideas like this.

Posted by: MidWestGuy | Jul 23, 2017 5:45:51 PM

The vasectomy is worth five years off in my book. The same should be offered for a tubal ligation.

The implants can be removed if a need for more welfare pay is felt. Welfare benefits are worth $50000 a year, tax free. The feminist lawyer is paying by the spawn. The more spawn, the higher pay, according to the family destroying feminist lawyer. If a father stays in the house, the loss of income can be in the 6 figures in pre-tax amounts.

Even if the prevented spawn were not be criminals, their cost to college would still be extremely high. As mentioned elsewhere, the crime spree of these spawn starts at three. The special education cost is 4 times the already bloated tuition of public school education.

To recap, the offer will save money in 1) less crime; 2 less dependency cost; 3) less special education; 4) less damage and mayhem from their conduct on the street; 5) less damage to real estate prices and to the economy; 6) less foster care; 7) less medical care for mental and physical trauma care; 8) less disruption and terror in the streets for other poor people; 9) less money going to billionaire drug cartel owners.

When we say, less, we are, of course, referring to less pay going to lawyers, government workers, social workers, foster parents, doctors, teachers and other tax sucking parasites. Thus, the outrage by these dirty traitors to our country.

Posted by: David Behar | Jul 23, 2017 5:49:39 PM

David Louis Raybin
Raybin & Weissman P.C.

I demand to know the fraction of your clients who are found, not guilty. I do not want to pay for an email service, which I can get for free. Are you just going to transport the plea offer of the prosecutor? At least 20% of your clients are innocent. If your track record of getting people found innocent is lower than that fraction, you are worthless.

Posted by: David Behar | Jul 23, 2017 5:53:17 PM

I am a criminal defense lawyer in Knoxville and agree that this is not fake news. This action by a small county sessions judge seems to be playing well with the law and order crowd. Those of us in the system understand it will not decrease drug use. It may have the opposite effect.

Posted by: Doug Trant | Jul 24, 2017 11:07:56 AM

@Anon, Buck v. Bell was never overturned, but it was severely limited at least when it comes to criminal justice matters where forcible sterilization for some charges and not others were found to violate Equal Protection. The case is Skinner v. Oklahoma.

I think the strongest argument for striking down this is as follows: Consent to the procedure is invalid under these coercive conditions and, under Skinner, it violates the Equal Protection Clause unless it applies to every crime (white collar, violent, non-violent, etc.) and both male and female inmates. Alternatively, development in case law with Griswold, Roe, Lawrence, etc. have undermined the reasoning of Buck v. Bell and that case should be overturned.

An inmate who wants to save 30 days but doesn't want to be sterilized would be the best to challenge this, although I suspect the individual would be released prior to any court ruling.

Posted by: Erik M | Jul 24, 2017 11:27:29 AM

True, Erik M, but some sort of TRO action, which moves relatively quickly, combined with the "capable of repetition yet evading review" argument on mootness might get a decision.

Posted by: Mark M. | Jul 24, 2017 11:36:04 PM

A little castration history from San Diego, CA.


Posted by: George | Jul 26, 2017 4:50:52 PM

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