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Tennessee Judge reprimanded for trading reduced jail time for vasectomies and nexplanon injections; inmates file lawsuit against Sheriff Shoupe and others

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Attorneys at Nexus Derechos Humanos fight for human and civil rights every where, for all people, and that includes vulnerable people located in White County, Tennessee (population appx. 25,000). There, our civil rights team has filed two class actions and a single law suit, challenging the constitutionality of a Sheriff-driven program that pressured human beings incarcerated in White County jail to trade 30 days of reduced jail time (for misdemeanor sentences) for vasectomies (men) and nexplanon injections (women). See our lawsuits: (1) lawsuit and (2) lawsuit.

Although our investigation has revealed thus far that Sheriff Oddie Shoupe (of White County) drove this modern-day eugenics program, along with at least one more Sheriff in a neighboring County as far back as 2015, Judge Sam Benningfield (of the General Sessions Court in White County, TN) actually filed an Order, memorializing Sheriff Shoupe’s unconstitutional program.

Well, thanks to our efforts–and the efforts of esteemed media outlets who worked with us to spotlight this egregious violation of everyones’ constitutional right to be free from government coercion while making critical decisions about reproductive health–Judge Benningfield has been publicly reprimanded by the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct. See the official public reprimand.

Something else to know. Judge Benningfield’s assertion that he was trying to stop children from being born with drug addiction is not supported by the evidence we’ve uncovered thus far. There is no evidence that Judge Benningfield or any Sheriff tried to actually target people with drug abuse problems; instead, the evidence demonstrates that Sheriff Shoupe & Co. pressured everyone under his care and custody to enroll in this heinous, unconstitutional program. Benningfield himself admitted to the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct that his Order unduly coerced vulnerable people into, at the very least, temporary sterilization. Specifically the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct stated: “You [Judge Benningfield] now realize that this order could unduly coerce inmates into undergoing a surgical procedure which would cause at least a temporary sterilization, and it was therefore improper.”

This eugenics program–along with being patently unconstitutional–also inherently discriminates against human beings just because they are incarcerated (no matter the crime). The program gives the appearance that persons incarcerated should undergo vasectomies and nexplanon injections to somehow better society. This type of inhumane, modern-day eugenics program has long been deemed unconstitutional, as a patent violation of everyones’ inherent right to self worth and dignity. No wonder the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded Judge Benningfield.

The law suits we filed on behalf of our clients are still pending. Attorneys at Nexus Derechos Humanos are asking the court to officially declare Defendants’ conduct unconstitutional, to help stop this unconstitutional conduct from spreading throughout our country.

Coerced sterilization is a shameful part of American history.  If you have been pressured, by prison officials or a judge, into a vasectomy or nexplanon injection (or like procedure), call us now for a free consultation. Our attorneys work all over the country, including the following states: Arizona, Texas, California, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Colorado, Georgia, Alabama, and South Dakota.