A report released on Thursday by the California state auditor reveals some shocking information regarding the treatment of female inmates in California prisons. The report suggest that between 2005 and 2013, as many as 39 female prisoners underwent the process of sterilization without their lawful consent. What’s more, in many of the cases, the women were coerced into being sterilized by prison medical staff.
It is uncertain what exact methods of coercion the staff used to convince women to undergo sterilization procedures, however, one would assume that it would take more than a gentle nudge to convince a woman to give up any possibility of reproducing in the future. Although prison medical staff have denied the allegations, it has been reported that they make their best efforts to sterilize inmates who they feel are the most likely to end up back in prison in the future.
State auditor Elaine Howle wrote in her report:
“Our audit also noted that prison medical staff infrequently requested approval to sterilize inmates, and when they did so, it was not always clear that these requests were approved.”
This seems painfully similar to the cases of police brutality which are being reported on daily in the news. Those in power are abusing their authority to the nth degree. If you give a mouse a cookie, he will ask you for a glass of milk. In this case, if you give a prison physician an inmate, he will forge the proper signatures and give them a quick sterilization.
One of the most rampant abuses of female sterilization in California prisons appears to have to do with the mandatory 30 day waiting period required before a woman can undergo sterilization procedures. By law, an inmate who is eighteen years or older and gives her consent to be sterilized, must wait thirty days before actually undergoing the operation. This rule is set in place to give the woman an ample amount of time to ponder the permanent, life-altering decision and change her mind if she feels the need. The report found 18 cases in which the 30 day waiting period guideline was not adhered to properly.
Furthermore, a staggering 27 cases were reported where the inmates’ doctors did not sign the consent forms. Clearly, this was not a one time issue in which a clerical error was made by mistake.
Feel free to read the report in it’s entirety here.
California lawmakers originally started pushing the idea of sterilizing female inmates as a means to combat the massive amount of welfare cases in the state. The vast majority of inmates come from low income households who tend to procreate without concern as to how they will afford to raise their offspring. This creates a vicious cycle of more generations who mature and then do the exact same thing in their adult life. Sterilizing females during their incarceration would eliminate the opportunity for them to have more children who would most likely became leaches of the system as well.
As you can imagine, this brings into question a huge number of human rights issues which can be argued fervently in any direction. What is your opinion? Should women who are a product of the system and likely to produce children who are the same be sterilized to prevent such procreation? Or is this an enormous violation of personal rights? Give us your take in the comments section!
H/T: Tell Me Now