California prisons sterilized at least 150 female inmates


Wait… They actually found people more worried about ‘undeserved’ care than they were excited by playing amateur eugenics?

This part of the story I find shocking.


I bet that’s why the nation’s mental health care facilities largely discontinued the “free lobotomy” program back in the 1970s.


Well so what if the inmates were really clean? Wait… you mean sterilized?


Seems to me that pregnant women in prison are in no position to give their consent to the procedure, much the same way that they are not considered able to give consent to have sex with the staff. The power and fear dynamic in prison is way too strong for it to be ruled out. Even if the woman technically consents, even if she thinks at the time that she actually consents, the conditions just aren’t there for us to be sure she truly made a good informed decision for herself of her own free will. It’s not like the outside world where you have a ton of choices on doctors, so if you don’t want to do something they suggest, you don’t have to worry that you’re going to make them mad or make them like you less and that you’ll be stuck receiving bad care or being denied care you need. I know I’d be afraid to upset the doctor who was about to be in control of something that could very painful or dangerous if he opted for it to be. And they don’t have access to plenty of second opinions and good reliable information about their health situation and the risks and rewards of sterilization or future pregnancies. They’re stuck with relying on one doctor to tell them it’s a good idea or a bad one. And apparently, he may have interests that aren’t strictly related to the mother’s health, like the one in the article that was obsessed with mothers being on welfare.

It might fall under empowering women and offering them a service that’s routinely available to women who deliver their babies when they’re not prisoners. But for inmates, no way. It’s depriving them of a chance to make the best decision possible about something that they can never undo.


There seems to be a fair number of people who are concerned with other people getting things they don’t “deserve”… A fair number of republicans buy into this line of thinking and they’d be pissed about that aspect of it, while demanding that people on welfare get tested for drugs.

Welcome to modern American politics… Also known as the pit of ultimate darkness…


I don’t want to quibble with anything you said except this. A good friend of mine is in her early-mid thirties. She doesn’t want kids. She hasn’t ever wanted kids, and I believe her completely when she says that she never will. She hates the side effects of birth control and doesn’t feel need to keep a reproductive system intact that she doesn’t need and is in general a pain in the ass. She, for the life of her, can’t get sterilized. Doctors just wont sterilize a women unless she has already dropped half a dozen kids. Hell, even as a guy you have to look around to find someone willing to do a vasectomy if you don’t have kids and are under 35.

So, routinely available to (American) women? Ha. No.

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Oh, definitely so, I just imagined that there would be overwhelming overlap between such people and the people who get worked into a lather at the notion of the unfit underclass pumping out future criminals for welfare money, and would be downright gleeful at the prospect of sterilizing as many as possible(and probably leaving an email trail that would use the word ‘spay’ a lot and serve as an exhibit in quite a few civil rights related lawsuits).

Analogous to the way that the ‘law and order’ types don’t tend to let concern about prisoners receiving undeserved lodging interfere with ‘getting those animals off the street’.


Crazy or lazy, they’ve just got to pull themselves up by their straightjacket straps and earn their own damn ice pick!


I’ve heard or read about other women having the same issue, wanting to have their tubes tied, but not being able to do so. I think it’s 50% our very pro-family culture and 50% fear of being sued on the part of the physician. Either way, it’s BS. If someone wants to make that decision, that’s up to them.

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Does “a fair number” include 100%?


The grumbling is somewhat more understandable coming from correctional officers who do an awful job* for little pay and quite possibly worse health plans than the prisoners get.

Your average vituperative tough-on-crime civilian who complains about prisoners getting access to anything more than bread and water and a bucket to crap in (Televisions! Books! GED classes! Gym equipment! With my tax money!) is simply an asshole with no understanding of how prisons work, i.e. that privileges that can be awarded and taken away are tools to maintain order.

* Awful as in the job sucks, not doing the job badly.

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They may still differ markedly from Joe Law and Order down the pub; but California state corrections officers are the nations’ best paid, sometimes dramatically so, and have a pretty nice benefits package. Job still sucks; but it pays better there than elsewhere.


Oh, I honestly don’t think they all do. I assume there are still a few not probably totally alienated Eisenhower repubs floating around, but they are in a minority, yes.

I also bet the repubs in democratic majority states are a bit more reasonable, at least the mainstream ones.

I’m sure it’s a miserable job, in many respects, but it’s not a particularly poorly paid one. The estimates for the median monthly income of a California correctional officer I’ve seen vary from $4500 to $6000; i.e., middle income or better.

As @fuzzyfungus noted above, California has the highest paid screws. Nationwide the median in 2012 was $38,970, which is enough to live modestly on in most of the country as long as you don’t have a bunch of kids, but hardly fair remuneration for having to deal with violent criminals who automatically hate you and significantly outnumber you, in a grossly unpleasant environment. It’s little wonder that so much of the contraband in prison is brought in by guards — every dollar counts.

Check out the state’s own salary database.

I’m not sure how they manage it, but there’s one Lieutenant who earned over a half million in 2012, and regular COs whose base salary was in the $200,000 range.

You’re sure this service was discontinued?

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