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Tennessee judge who offered inmates reduced sentences for sterilization rebuked

Shorter sentence for birth control?

SPARTA, Tenn. -- A 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 letter of reprimand dated Nov. 15 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. 

Benningfield told CBS News at the time the controversial move was in response to the opioid crisis. He said he wanted to stop prospective mothers and fathers from passing their drug addiction to their children. 

He estimated 80 to 90 percent of the cases that come before him are tied in some way to drugs or alcohol. 

"I'm not on a crusade of any sort, I'm trying to help -- trying to help people," Benningfield told CBS News' David Begnaud.

Benningfield 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.

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