Two lawsuits filed against judge and sheriff about birth control for inmates have been dismissed
By Kim Swindell Wood | August 6, 2018 7:43 am
Two former inmates at the White County Jail were unsuccessful in lawsuits they filed about a standing order issued more than a year ago that allowed inmates to receive contraception services for a reduced jail sentence.
On May 15, 2017, Judge Sam Benningfield issued the order that stated, “Any White County inmate serving a sentence for the General Sessions Court who satisfactorily completes the State… Department of Health Neonatal Syndrome Education Program be given two days credit toward… jail sentence.”
The order also stated that inmates who received contraception services would be granted an additional 30 days credit toward completion of their jail sentences. Female inmates could receive a “free” Nexplanon implant and male inmates could receive a “free” vasectomy, according to the order issued by Benningfield.
By July 2017, Benningfield rescinded the order after nationwide news coverage that compared the legal declaration to eugenics, which is defined as “the practice or advocacy of controlled selective breeding of human populations (as by sterilization) to improve the population’s genetic composition.”
However, at least two lawsuits were filed by inmates who claimed the order was unjust.
Christopher Sullivan, one of the plaintiffs whose lawsuit was recently dismissed, stated he had been required to serve an additional 30-days because he refused to allow a doctor to give him a vasectomy. Sullivan’s lawsuit was filed Aug. 24, 2017.
According to court documents, “The Plaintiff [Sullivan] is a member of a large class of White County inmates who have refused to submit to surgical sterilization. Accordingly, the Plaintiff is required to serve an additional thirty days in a White County Jail because he refuses to allow a government doctor to give him a vasectomy.”
On June 18, 2018, Sullivan’s lawsuit was dismissed by Waverly D. Crenshaw Jr., chief United States district judge.
David Stall, a former inmate, filed a similar lawsuit on Oct. 9, 2017, citing Sheriff Oddie Shoupe, Donna Daniels (listed as a deputy with the White County Sheriff Department), Judge Sam Benningfield, and White County as the defendants.
The preliminary statement in Stall’s lawsuit stated, “The starting point for this lawsuit is the undeniable right granted to the people of the United States by our Constitution, to be free from undue and unnecessary government intrusion/coercion when making decisions about reproductive health and procreation. Said freedom, in the area of vasectomies and birth control/sterilization, is generally referred to as voluntary consent.”
On June 19, 2018, Stall’s lawsuit was dismissed by Waverly D. Crenshaw Jr., chief United States district judge.