Middle TN judge behind inmate sterilization program rebuked

SPARTA, Tenn. (AP) — A Middle Tennessee judge who offered inmates less jail time if they voluntarily underwent birth control procedures has been publicly reprimanded by state judicial regulators.

The Tennessean reports White County judge Sam Benningfield received a Nov. 15 letter of reprimand from the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct, saying he’d acted in a way that threatened public confidence in the judicial system.

A public reprimand doesn’t tangibly affect a judge’s ability to work.

In May, Benningfield signed a standing order providing 30 days’ credit toward jail time for men who agreed to free vasectomies and women who agreed to free Nexplanon implants. He issued another order in July rescinding the practice after backlash.

Benningfield and White County Sheriff Oddie Shoupe have been named in several lawsuits as a result of the program.