An assistant district attorney in Nashville, Tennessee has been dismissed after media reported that he’d been demanding that women diagnosed with mental illnesses be sterilized as part of plea agreements. And defense lawyers told the Associated Press that it’s not an isolated case.
“In the most recent case, first reported by The Tennessean, a woman with a 20-year history of mental illness had been charged with neglect after her five-day-old baby mysteriously died,” reported the Associated Press on CBS News. “Her defense attorney says the prosecutor assigned to the case wouldn’t go forward with a plea deal to keep the woman out of prison unless she had the surgery.”
The Associated Press also cited other cases elsewhere in the country. “Defense attorneys say there have been at least three similar cases in the past five years, suggesting the practice may not be as rare as people think and may happen more often outside the public view and without the blessing of a court.”
“The history of sterilization in this country is that it is applied to the most despised people — criminals and the people we’re most afraid of, the mentally ill — and the one thing that that these two groups usually share is that they are the most poor. That is what we’ve done in the past, and that’s a good reason not to do it now,” a Georgia State University law professor told the Associated Press.
Nashville assistant DA fired amid reports of sterilization in plea deals (Associated Press, CBS News, April 1, 2015)