The ACLU calls it "unconstitutional." The judge calls it a way to give inmates a "chance." It's a novel program made available since May 15 to those incarcerated in White County, Tenn., that shaves 30 days off inmates' jail time if they submit to a birth control procedure. For men, it's a vasectomy; for women, the Nexplanon implant, which a 2016 Self article dubbed "even more effective than an IUD." General Sessions Judge Sam Benningfield, the man behind the order, tells NewsChannel 5 his intention was pure: to break a cycle he sees continually replayed in his courtroom involving drug offenses and child support.
"I hope to encourage them to take personal responsibility and give them a chance, when they do get out, to not be burdened with children," he says. "This gives them a chance to get on their feet and make something of themselves." Dozens are taking that chance: Thirty-two women have had the implant, and the Tennessee Department of Health will be performing vasectomies on 38 men. The ACLU isn't the only ruffled party. District Attorney Bryant Dunaway, who prosecutes White County cases, makes clear his office "doesn't support this order." A post at Above the Law points out Dunaway "got elected to get tough on crime ... and even he's willing to draw the line. He literally has nothing to lose by tacitly backing this insanity, so he deserves a lot of credit here." (Read more vasectomy stories.)