Lawmakers call for investigation of alleged prison sterilizations

Lawmakers are calling for an investigation into allegations that prison doctors pressured female inmates into being sterilized.

The inmates were sterilized without approval from top officials in Sacramento, reported the Center for Investigative Reporting. Some women said doctors pushed the procedure on inmates.

Republicans said the Senate Committee on Public Safety should hold an oversight hearing to examine the allegations.

Senate Republican leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) noted that the sterilizations occurred while prison healthcare has been under the control of the court-appointed federal receiver, who has been tasked with improving inmate care.


“These allegations are alarming,” he said in a statement. “We need to find out how this abuse of authority was allowed to happen and hold accountable those who participated.”

The California Legislative Women’s Caucus sent a letter to the federal receiver requesting information about the sterilizations.

“Pressuring a vulnerable population -- including at least one documented instance of a patient under sedation -- to undergo these extreme procedures erodes the ban on eugenics,” the caucus wrote in the letter. “In our view, such practice violates constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment; protections that you were appointed to enforce.”

Joyce Hayhoe, the director for legislation and communications at the receiver’s office, said new procedures to limit sterilization procedures were put in place in 2010. Only one has been performed since then, she said, and it was medically necessary.


Hayhoe said officials have not found any case where the tubal ligation was performed without the inmate’s consent.

As lawmakers probe the practice, she said, “we’ll be ready to answer all of their questions.”



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Twitter: @chrismegerian