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Inmates offered reduced sentences for birth control procedure (bbc.com)
62 points by abhi3 125 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 75 comments



If getting 30 days shaved off your sentence is such an appealing offer that an optional bargain involving sterilization is considered coercion, surely it's putting people in prison that's inhumane here?


Prison in the U.S. is cruel and unusual punishment, as well as an institution of modern slavery.

Race and income are the highest predictors of whether a person would end up in prison.

Both of these speak loudly about us as a society and about our true values.


In the case of drug crimes, I agree with you. Appeal of the logic starts to break down when you scale it out for violent offenders. In fact, I find the lax sentencing in Scandanavian countries appalling.


> In fact, I find the lax sentencing in Scandanavian countries appalling.

Do you find their low recidivism rates similarly appalling?


I find their population bares little resemblence to Chicago's.


We're not talking about Chicago, are we?

You said "In fact, I find the lax sentencing in Scandanavian countries appalling." I'm asking if you're appalled by the low recidivism rates their apparently-appalling justice system produces.


Sure we are.

"Socialism works so well there! We should do it here."

"They have such low recidivism there! We should use their sentencing as a standard!"

I think violent offenses are more than something that requires reform for the perpetrator. It requires justice for the victim. Rape and murder? Fuck you, you're going away FOREVER.


What, exactly is the socialist/capitalist dividing line when it comes to sentencing length? At what point does a short murder sentence become a sign of socialism?


[flagged]


You still haven't answered if you find their recidivism rates a problem. It's perfectly fine if your are of the opinion that their system will not work outside their set of circumstances, but you've stated that you find their sentencing appalling without ever commenting on how you view their results.

If you don't care about results, and only about the morality of their choices then state that


I really appreciate this thread. Saving it as an example of using the Socratic method to drive the conversation.

thank you.


You started out with "what they do over there is appalling", nobody said anything about replicating it in the US.


Would you find it less appalling to have them adapt their sentences to a population they don't have?


Some women have a severe adverse reaction to "hormonal" birth control. These products actually use hormone analogues that disrupt the steroid pathways.

This diagram shows how cholesterol is turned into the steroids: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steroid#/media/File:Steroidoge...

As best I can figure, my friend had her first psychotic break after 9 months of chemical castration with time released medroxyprogesterone acetate (Depo Provera). This drug is a very good mimic of Progesterone USP (what the body makes for itself), but the body cannot transform it into the steroids downstream from Progesterone USP.

Most of the other endocrine disruptors used as birth control aren't nearly as bad as Provera, but all have potential for adverse reactions.

edit: wording


  chemical castration
Equating temporary and removable birth control with "castration" is ludicrous.


> Equating temporary and removable birth control with "castration" is ludicrous.

The 'chemical castration' comment was about Depo Provera specifically. The injection is NOT removable: you're basically stuck with the effects for 3+ months, unless you know to use the antidote (which is not covered in doctors' curriculum for using this class of drugs on their patients).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemical_castration#United_Sta...


The article mentions that they're using Nexplanon, which, though it's a hormonal method as you say, is absolutely not comparable to chemical castration. It's recommended for use by Planned Parenthood among other organisations, as it's convenient and has a low failure rate.

All the "chemical castration" and "severe adverse reaction" seems to do here is introduce unwarranted FUD. As far as I'm able to find, the number of complications due to the implant are insignificant. It's like those disclaimers in drugs commercials where they mention a headache relief medicine might give you a heart attack. Sure it's possible, no it's not something many people need to worry about.


Some people defend the current contraceptive status-quo by reasoning "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one."

> is absolutely not comparable to chemical castration.

Yes, the article is about Nexplanon, and DMPA (Depo Medroxyprogesterone Acetate) is what's used to chemically castrate men, and to render women temporarily infertile. But nexplanon's active ingredient suppresses the HPG axis [1] too.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypothalamic%E2%80%93pituitary...

My friend is that one-in-10000 who was especially vulnerable to pseudo-hormones. Her doctor didn't appreciate the significance of the main negative symptom she complained about (bleeding continuously for months), and injected her twice more anyways. She would be an inmate at the state's psychiatric hospital, or dead, if I hadn't taken an interest in her struggles.

> As far as I'm able to find, the number of complications due to the implant are insignificant.

Except to the people who have them. Here's a report from a random redditor:

https://www.reddit.com/r/TwoXChromosomes/comments/4mofxf/the...


I understand and sympathise with your friend's experience but:

> Some people defend the current contraceptive status-quo by reasoning "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one."

Yes. This is how modern medicine works. Nearly every medication will cause an adverse reaction to a small number of people and there's really not much we can do about it. They produce a net good though so we use them.

Also, I'm certainly not a doctor but doesn't Nexplanon release the same hormones in "the pill", used by millions of women around the world?

I think the real problem is in this part:

> Her doctor didn't appreciate the significance of the main negative symptom she complained about (bleeding continuously for months), and injected her twice more anyways.

The problem here isn't hormonal birth control, it's an incompetent doctor.

> Except to the people who have them. Here's a report from a random redditor

She also seems to be a victim of an incompetent doctor.


> > Some people defend the current contraceptive status-quo by reasoning "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one."

> Yes. This is how modern medicine works. Nearly every medication will cause an adverse reaction to a small number of people and there's really not much we can do about it. They produce a net good though so we use them.

Feminists were making some progress with figuring out how to help women take better control their own fertility in the 1950's and 1960's... I have some of their books. Then the pill came out, and women were like, "why bother figuring out how our bodies work, and how to make them work better, when we can just take a little pill every day!" Or something like that.

It's trivially-easy for men to render themselves temporarily infertile (edit: without resorting to condoms/surgery/pills). But there's no recurring business to the medical industry, so that body of knowledge is ignored.

> [...] incompetent doctor. [...] incompetent doctor.

Both of these doctors are just implementing their training, which is based on pharmacology rather than physiology.

> Also, I'm certainly not a doctor but doesn't Nexplanon release the same hormones in "the pill", used by millions of women around the world?

The various birth control pill formulas use different 'progestins', the class of chemicals that are sort-of similar to the natural Progestogens [1].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progestogen


This is not "birth control"—it's "coerced sterilization."


It's my understanding that the hormone-releasing implants for the women are birth control - remove it and you can get pregnant again in a month or two. I see this is an arm implant, not an IUD as a couple of friends have used (and subsequently removed and had a beautiful healthy daughter), so I may be incorrect.

But yes, the vasectomy offered to the men is far more permanent than "birth control".


India pioneered a "reversible vasectomy" [1]. Basically they gum up the ducts from the testes. It does not have to be irreversible.

The thing to watch is whether knowing they have become, at least temporarily, infertile, will lead them to unsafe sex practices resulting in more venereal disease.

[1]http://newatlas.com/risug-male-contraception/18824/


There's a YC company, Contraline[1][2], doing a similar thing.

[1]: http://contraline.com/

[2]: http://contraline.com/news/2016/05/13/contraline-is-accepted...


I remember reading an impressive statistic where the implant actually has a higher real world success rate due to more botched/healed ligations.

Edit: http://www.ohjoysextoy.com/implant/ -0.05% failure rate on implants, 0.5% on sterilisation. Impressive.


"A Tennessee judge has rescinded his controversial program that sought to encourage drug-dependent female and male inmates to cut their jail time by voluntarily agreeing to undergo birth control procedures.

White County General Sessions Court Judge Sam Benningfield of Sparta filed the order on Wednesday, a day before two state lawmakers asked Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery to render a legal opinion on the controversial program's constitutionality."

http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/breakingnews/story/2017/j...


This practice has been stopped. (Edit)

Source: http://wkrn.com/2017/07/27/white-county-judge-stops-trading-...


The article is from July 21, which wasn't too long ago.


(Can't edit my comment anymore, unfortunately. To clarify the context, before it was edited, the grandparent comment I replied to said something like: "This article is very old." The author has since removed that sentence.)


it's not eugenics I swear


What is the real end difference between this and something like genomic editing?

I'm not arguing for one or none of the above. Simply curious.


Specificity of change, scale of impact, and passive-vs-active management.

Genesplicing can be highly targeted, whereas this isn't necessarily even targeting the source of the traits. For example, the (theoretical) inability of gay men to breed doesn't decrease the gene prevalence if also passed through their sisters. We could (hypothetically) see something similar here, where propensity for criminality is passed on by relatives and no amount of sterilizing criminals removes it because there's eg, a benefit to mothers having highly aggressive sons/brothers.

Genesplicing only impacts the children, while sterilization has a large impact on the sterilized individual's hormones.

Finally, genesplicing in/out traits and competing for fitness is bottom-up selection, rather than top-down (as trying to supress traits via mass sterilization would be), and thus more stable/likely to work, better respects personal freedoms, etc.


Depends on the nature of the genomic editing and the circumstances under which it occurs, doesn't it?

For example: "We'll give you time off your sentence if you let us edit out genes in your gametes linked to aggressive and addictive traits." That trade is similarly coercive, and doesn't provide a clear benefit to the future children.


> doesn't provide a clear benefit to the future children.

> edit out genes in your gametes linked to aggressive and addictive traits

sounds like a pretty clear benefit to me! I'd do that even if I was trying to conceive naturally. Why would I want my children to have a genetic predisposition towards undesirable behaviour?


Maybe aggression is a desirable trait.


To be fair, there are different types of aggression - some desirable (i.e. a strategic thinker who isn't afraid of /blitzkrieg/ as a valid strategy in business ventures) and others undesirable (e.g. prone to outbursts physical anger) which can only be described as a liability in polite, organised society.


Supposedly Spartans thinned their progeny for that trait.

So, I'd guess it's desirable for martial purposes. But given we're on the path to robotic (foot) soldiers --maybe it won't be of much benefit for long.


The coercion part.


Coercion, or incentives? The criminals can say no.


"Say yes or spend time in jail" is not coercion, in your opinion?


Coercion is taking a free person and threatening them with something horrible if they don't comply. These criminals were going to go to jail anyway. Not a big distinction, but I don't think that it's coercion.


You know you don't just get to make up new definitions for words to win arguments, right?

I can't find a single definition of coercion that requires "a free person" to be the one being threatened.


Black's law dictionary is online and worthy of consultation (http://thelawdictionary.org/coercion/). I think it's applicable. It's not coercion if you are free to refuse, and these criminals can refuse without worsening their situation.


That definition doesn't in any way support your contention that prisoners cannot be coerced.


The only way they are "going to jail anyway" is if there is literally no other option for them. By offering them an alternative option, this is no longer the case.


Are condoms "eugenics" too?


If not using them every time you have sex means a jail sentence, yes.

(Plus, they're not permanent.)


So no then. And not in this case either.


Yes, you've successfully identified an important difference between single-use birth control and permanent sterilization.


Hormone implants aren't permanent, and vasectomies might not be either.

The inmates have a choice to accept, and do not get jail time for refusing.


Vasectomies are permanent enough. Quibbling over failure rates and the possibility of expensively restoring fertility doesn't really change the fact that coercing defendants into getting them is problematic.

"We'll reduce your jail time if you do X" is functionally the same thing as "We'll increase your jail time if you don't do X".


> is functionally the same

It very, very much isn't


probably came out a bit sharp due to gut reaction


There's been sterilization of "welfare moms" in the recent past in the US.[1]

[1] http://www.thedailybeast.com/sterilized-for-being-poor


1981 isn't "recent", and it was illegal even then, as your link states clearly.


I am failing to find it, but this same basic story was posted in recent weeks. Perhaps just as well. A tldr of my comments there: Eh, some inmates might feel "You are going to reduce my sentence AND give me free birth control? What's the catch?"

As this article says, he may be going about it the wrong way, but he probably is trying to do something good. The Deep South (where I was born and raised) seems to generally be even worse than the rest of America about certain things. I can see him being willing to take the blame so some young woman can stop being a baby factory and blame it on him, thereby getting relatives and church members off her back.


Is it common for inmates to have relatives and church members on their back about not having children?

It seems there is a more serious situation that the relatives and church members would be on their back about.


I have read that sexual activity among teens in Europe and the US is about the same, but teen pregnancy rates are higher in the US due to reluctance to use birth or less ability to access birth control. Girls who take the pill in the US are "sluts" because they planned it. Girls who are swept away with emotion are in the clear morally because it is "love." The US also has a lot of hangups about abortion and barriers to accessing it.

There are social settings where "good girls":

A) Do not use birth control, especially if they are unmarried.

B) Serve the sexual needs of their man.

C) Do not get abortions because it is baby murder.

Etc. Ad nauseum.

It is a recipe for disaster for the girl and there is no socially acceptable escape from it -- unless some " asshole" male authority figure kindly gives you an out where you can say "Look, ma, I took the deal to come home to my kid 30 days early. I am trying to be a good parent here. Not my fault the judge is an asshole."

Good authority figures accept that doing the right thing means taking the blame for it when people don't like it. It is part of the job.

(Edit: some stats may be out of date because I am an old woman. The general principle still applies.)


So, where are the Conservatives deploring this government involvement in health care?

Or, viewed from another angle, this is the future of health care in America.

(For those who are unaware, note that other aspects of health care in U.S. incarceration are often poor or outright unavailable. As a simple exercise, just say to yourself "private prison" -- which many jurisdictions have increasingly moved to -- and imagine the corresponding pressure for cost savings (i.e. profit).

But, "spay and neuter" them? [Yes, an intentionally harsh and polemic phrasing on my part.] Sure, we can pay for that.)


Conservatives do not like it when the government forces them to pay for other people's birth control. This is usually one of the top issues in any American election and is discussed repeatedly year-round in the media.


If we support "cash for clunkers" why not support "pay people to be sterilized?" I don't mean "pay poor people and criminals" -- I mean, open up the program to any person who volunteers.


I don't see an issue if it's available to one and all adults for free with no strings attached.


What about the hypothetical scenario where the procedure is free, and the volunteer also receives, say, $2,000?


If everyone is offered the $2,000, for the reversible kind, I'm okay with it. I know for some people 2,000 is something, for some people it's nothing. But if it's reversible I don't see the harm.


On the whole, I'm with you -- even if the procedure is not reversible.

I do have sympathy for the view that paying people to be sterilized preys upon the weak. Many people can think of things that they would have done for $2,000 at one point, but not at another point.


This is disgusting.


RIP Here lies humanity


News flash. This has been ongoing for decades, on and off. America is a shithole.


Honest question, is anywhere not?


Does it matter?


Australia and New Zealand?


Surely you jest? If not, I suggest you do some research on the Australian government, eugenics, and aboriginal populations.


Australia was considering forced castrations as recently as 2015. Also, I'm led to believe that internet service is fairly poor there due to limiting outgoing bandwidth.

I don't really know anything bad about NZ.


I 100/40 Mbps fibre connection to my house in Launceston, Tasmania. Seems to work alright. But I'm lucky.

I've often wondered if I had been castrated as a teenager maybe I would have spent less time in police lockup for stupid behavioural issues.

Castration, as well as the elimination of hormonally-driven behavior associated with a stallion, allows a male horse to be calmer and better-behaved, making the animal quieter, gentler and potentially more suitable as an everyday working animal.[1]

Decreased Aggression: One of the most important behavioral advantages of castration is that as adults, these dogs will tend to be less aggressive both toward other male dogs and also people. The androgen (male) hormones, of which testosterone is the most important, are responsible for the development of many behavioral patterns. When young puppies are sexually mounting their 7 and 8-week old litter mates this is because of androgen surges in their bodies. The same is true with aggressive behavior.[2]

Forced castration is something I don't think anyone should admit to supporting.

I wonder if there is scope for repeat violent offenders be offered the procedure in exchange for early release or more lenient sentencing. Can, meet worms.

I like to imagine that scenario ends up being a footgun when, in the future, we've bred violence out of the human race, the aliens invade and we're too passive to do anything about it.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gelding

2. https://www.petcoach.co/article/benefits-of-neutering-castra...


> I don't really know anything bad about NZ.

https://e2nz.org


I suggest reading about http://www.projectprevention.org for a less coercive version of the same concept.




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