Judge Offers Inmates Reduced Sentences in Exchange for Vasectomy image

NBC News, July 21, 2017
Kalhan Rosenblatt, quoting I. Glenn Cohen (Faculty Director)


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From the article:

[... I.] Glenn Cohen, a professor at Harvard Law School, said the program was a "bad policy," and pointed to prior court rulings, which set a precedent that could make Benningfield's order unconstitutional.

"The approach of this judge is constitutionally questionable. In Skinner v. Oklahoma, the Supreme Court indicated it violated the Constitution to impose sterilization as a punishment for a criminal," Cohen wrote in an email. "This case is slightly different, though, in that it involves sentencing."

Cohen said some states acknowledge that an inmate could waive his or her constitutional rights as a condition of parole, adding birth control is not a topic on which many lower courts have issued rulings.

The ones that have, Cohen said, have been deemed unconstitutional.

"This case seems even more problematic because it seems that some of the birth control mechanisms are permanent/hard to reverse; moreover, a subtle point is that one worries about discrimination here — is the judge allowing women too old to reproduce or individuals that are already infertile to also get this treatment," Cohen said. [...]

bioethics criminal law health law policy i. glenn cohen reproductive rights