Eugenics in Tennessee: Trading Sterilization for Freedom


Written by Brent Derider

On May 15th 2017 at 2:05PM, Sessions Judge Sam Benningfield signed a standing order that, effectively, puts White County, TN, in the business of trading sterilization for freedom. It stated that any inmate who completes a neonatal health class has an option to have their jail time reduced. Female inmates can get a Nexplanon birth control implant in their arm and male inmates are subjected to a vasectomy. For this, they receive 30 days credit toward their sentence.

Proponents of the order tout the program as “relieving the burden on taxpayers and the welfare system” and deny accusations of coercive eugenics, claiming that the program is “voluntary.” Says former S.C. Republican Congressional hopeful, Kris Wampler, “Right now, we pay people to have kids by offering them welfare. We are literally subsidizing the birth of countless kids no one will care for. Doesn’t it make more sense, if we’re going to pay someone anyway, to pay them to be less of a burden on society?”

Judge Benningfield claims the order will “give them a chance when they get out” to “not be burdened with children.”

It seems, however, that not everyone is quite so thrilled with White County’s new involvement in eugenics. District Attorney Bryant Dunaway opposes the order. “Those decisions are personal in nature, and I think that’s just something the court should neither encourage nor mandate.” said Dunaway. The White County DA further remarks “I instructed my staff not to be involved in this type of arrangement in any way.”

Thomas C. Arnold Jr., respected liberty advocate and LPTN Chair, spoke clearly against the action. “It is a heinous attack on civil liberties in Tennessee. No individual, regardless the crime, should be coerced in this manner. It sickens me.”

Most inmates are a product of the failed war on drugs and shouldn’t be incarcerated at all, but even actual criminals have the right to their ability procreate. Forcing people to choose between sterilization and their freedom isn’t an offer. It’s coercion. If a person can be released into society, safely, they should be. Sterilization has no role to play. This goes far beyond government over-step. This is a great stride down a dark road that leads us directly back to 1940’s Germany.

As far as this activist is concerned, enough is enough. A clear message needs to be sent to Judge Benningfield and those like him. As both a Libertarian and a proud southerner, I am appalled at this clear attempt to target the reproductive ability of a class of people that Mr. Benningfield finds unappealing. This is not within the scope of legitimate government. This is coerced eugenics and stopping it is the duty of every one of us.

To contact Sam Benningfield and share your thoughts on this abuse of power:

111 Depot Street, Suite 2, Sparta, TN 38583

Phone & Fax: 931-836-3600


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