Lawsuits Filed Over White Co. Sentence Reduction In Exchange For Birth Control

Posted at 8:09 PM, Aug 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-17 22:03:13-04

 A controversial decision by a mid-state judge has become the center of a new federal lawsuit.

In July, NewsChannel 5 reported how a White County judge was reducing jail times for inmates if they agreed to get a vasectomy or go on birth control.

But now one inmate says she was coerced into having the procedure. 

"Judge Benningfield, Sheriff Shoupe, his deputies, and the White County Administration are simply put, playing God," Mike Donovan, Nexus Caridades Attorneys, President.

Back on May 5th, 40-year-old Christel Ward agreed to participate in White County's birth control program for inmates. Ward got the birth control, Nexplanon implanted in her arm in hopes of receiving the 30 day jail reduction.

But that never happened.

"When I went in, they kept on about me getting this done in my arm, and I got it. They told me they was going to give me 32 days off they didn't even give it to me," said Ward.

Though she willingly agreed to have undergo the procedure, Ward's attorneys argued she was coerced into the decision.

"If you had 60 days and you agree to get a vasectomy or an implant, then I cut your sentence in half. Who's not going to take it? That is what we call unnecessary and undue coerce. It's unconstitutional," said Mario Williams, Nexus Caridades Attorneys Civil Rights Chief. 

Because Ward never received the 30 day reduction, her attorney believes White County officials had a ulterior motive.

"This is not about her sentence reduction, and this is not about family planning. This is about determining who in the community is undesirable to Sheriff Shoupe and this is his mastermind to force people to not procreate," said Donovan.

For now, it is up to a federal judge to decide if the program really is unconstitutional. Ward is hoping that decision comes soon, and the implant comes out.

"I want it out. They told me that I couldn't get it out unless I paid, pay $250 and I want this out. I want this took care of," said Ward.

The Sheriff's office declined to comment on the lawsuit.

According to the Sheriff's office,  Ward was arrested on March 6, 2017 for what officers believe was methamphetamine paraphernalia, probation violation, and evading arrest.