An agreement by a Virginia man to undergo a vasectomy to cut five years from a prison sentence for child endangerment has sparked a debate over extreme measures courts the state can take to make people responsible for their offspring.
According to the Associated Press, Jesse Lee Herald, 27, was offered the deal by a Shenandoah County prosecutor to keep him from having more children he can’t support. Herald, apparently something of a chick magnet who has fathered seven children with six different women, agreed to the deal reluctantly, AP reported.
“It was not a no-brainer for him,” said his attorney, Charles Ramsey. “It was a difficult decision. I had some reservations as well, but I don’t want to get too much into my opinion of it because it’s not my decision.”
“He needs to be able to support the children he already has when he gets out,” prosecutor Ilona White told the AP.
Under the deal, Herald received a year and eight months on the charge, which involved a hit and run crash Herald caused that left his 3-year-old son injured.
The unusual deal raised concerns in part because of a history of forced sterilizations in the United States – mainly because of perceived genetic defects that caused mental disabilities.
In Virginia alone, about 8,000 people deemed genetically inferior or deficient were forcibly sterilized in Virginia from the 1920s to about 1970, according to the AP.
On “Happening Now” Tuesday on Fox, legal experts split on Herald’s operation, with network legal analysts Lys Wiehl arguing that forcing a defendant to choose between five years in prison and a vasectomy amounted to punitive sterilization, which the Supreme Court banned in 1942.
Defense attorney and former prosecutor Doug Burns, however, argued that Herald will be allowed to have the procedure reversed when his probation is ended.
Check out the debate here.
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