[Pnews] Women prisoners sterilized illegally, California audit confirms

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Jun 20 10:54:09 EDT 2014


    California finds illegal sterilizations of female inmates

Corey G. Johnson, The Center for Investigative Reporting
*http://www.sfchronicle.com/news/article/State-finds-illegal-sterilizations-of-female-5565855.php*

June 19, 2014 | Updated: June 20, 2014 5:58am

The state auditor blasted federal and state oversight of sterilization 
surgeries for female prison inmates on Thursday, finding numerous 
illegal operations and violations of California's informed-consent law.

Of the 144 tubal ligations performed on inmates from fiscal years 
2005-06 to 2012-13, auditors found, more than a quarter were done 
without lawful consent, according to the report by State Auditor Elaine 
Howle.

The findings "made me sick to my stomach," said state Sen. Ted Lieu, 
D-Torrance (Los Angeles County), who was the first to call for the 
Medical Board of California to investigate the surgeries after the 
Center for Investigative Reporting broke the story nearly a year ago. 
That probe has not been completed.


      Charges of coercion

Former inmates and prisoner advocates have said prison medical staffers 
coerced the women, targeting those deemed likely to return to prison 
after they were released. The new audit notes that all women receiving 
tubal ligations in state prisons from 2005 to 2013 had been incarcerated 
at least once before. However, prison medical officials have denied any 
ill intent.

In addition, the audit found:

-- Inmates receiving tubal ligations typically had been pregnant five or 
more times before being sterilized.

-- Most of the women tested at less than a high school level of reading 
proficiency, with about one-third reading below the sixth-grade level.

-- In 27 cases, the inmate's physician did not sign the required consent 
form asserting that the patient appeared to be mentally competent and 
understood the lasting effects of the procedure and that the required 
waiting period had been satisfied.

-- There were 18 cases with potential violations of the required waiting 
period between when the inmate consented and when the surgery actually 
took place. State law mandates a 30-day wait to ensure patients aren't 
pressured or rushed.

With some overlap between the missing physician signatures and 
waiting-period violations, the number of illegal operations totaled 39, 
the report found.


      Lack of consent

The audit also found that some doctors falsified the consent forms, 
indicating the proper waiting period had passed when it clearly had not.

The audit noted that the federal receiver's office, which took over 
medical care in the state's prisons in 2006, maintains that it has no 
legal duty to make sure prison employees comply with the consent 
procedures, which Lieu called "ludicrous."

Liz Gransee, spokeswoman for the federal prison receiver, confirmed that 
the office's lawyers disagree with the audit's conclusions. Nonetheless, 
Gransee said, the office will implement the audit's recommendations.

In the audit, the office says it has initiated staff training, among 
other measures.

Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, and Sen. Hannah-Beth 
Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, requested the audit in August in response to 
the Center for Investigative Reporting's investigation.


      'Systemic' problem

On Thursday, Jackson described the results as shocking.

"Based upon the auditor's report, the problem is far more systemic," she 
said. "We now have clear proof that the prison environment is an 
environment where consent simply cannot be obtained in a responsible, 
reliable manner for these procedures."

Cynthia Chandler, an adjunct professor at the Golden Gate University 
School of Law and co-founder of the prisoner rights group Justice Now, 
called the report a good first step. She also called for state 
reparations for the women who were sterilized.

Justice Now has been raising questions about prison sterilizations since 
the early 2000s, after receiving medical reports and allegations of 
abuse from incarcerated women.

"We were dismissed as heretics despite having evidence abuse and illegal 
sterilizations were occurring," Chandler said. "This report feels like 
an incredible step and vindication for people who work toward 
challenging human rights abuses."

The state auditor urged federal officials to forward the names of 
physicians involved in the illegal surgeries to the Medical Board and 
the state Department of Public Health for further investigation and 
disciplinary action. That would include 17 doctors and eight hospitals.

The Center for Investigative Reporting's investigation, published in 
July, found that inmates were signed up for the surgery while pregnant 
at two women's prisons: the California Institution for Women in Corona 
(Riverside County) and Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla 
(Madera County). Valley State became a men's prison in 2013.


      Focus on facility

State prison data indicate that more than half the surgeries from 2006 
to 2010- 74 - were requested by Valley State. More than two-thirds of 
those requests came from Dr. James Heinrich, Valley State's OB/GYN, or a 
nurse on his staff.

Heinrich previously said that the money spent sterilizing inmates was 
minimal "compared to what you save in welfare paying for these unwanted 
children."

In response to the Center for Investigative Reporting story, Jackson 
introduced a bill that would ban all inmate sterilizations for birth 
control purposes. Under SB1135, such surgeries would be performed only 
during life-threatening emergencies and to cure physical illness.

The Senate approved the measure last month. It is now before the Assembly.

This story was produced by the Center for Investigative Reporting, an 
independent, nonprofit newsroom based in the Bay Area. For more, go to 
cironline.org. E-mail: cjohnson at cironline.org 
<mailto:cjohnson at cironline.org> Twitter: @CoreyGJohnson 
<http://twitter.com/CoreyGJohnson>
********************************************************************


  Female prison inmates sterilized illegally, California audit confirms

*http://cironline.org/reports/female-prison-inmates-sterilized-illegally-california-audit-confirms-6471?utm_source=Marketo&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Jun%2019,%202014%20Weekly&mkt_tok=3RkMMJWWfF9wsRonv6jJZKXonjHpfsX%2B7ekuWKOg38431UFwdcjKPmjr1YIES8N0aPyQAgobGp5I5FEAQ7fYUaNst6IEUg%3D%3D*

*Credit:* Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

*/UPDATE, June 19, 2014: /*/This story updates throughout with more 
details about the audit./

The California state auditor today blasted federal and state oversight 
of sterilization surgeries for female prison inmates, finding numerous 
illegal surgeries and violations of the state's informed-consent law.

Of the 144 tubal ligations performed on inmates from fiscal years 
2005-06 to 2012-13, auditors found, more than a quarter -- 39 -- were 
done without lawful consent, according to the report 
<https://www.auditor.ca.gov/pdfs/reports/2013-120.pdf> by State Auditor 
Elaine Howle. The "true number" of illegal procedures might be higher, 
the audit said, because auditors found seven cases at one hospital for 
which health records were lost in a routine purging.

The findings "made me sick to my stomach," said state Sen. Ted 
Lieu, D-Redondo Beach, who was the first to call for the Medical Board 
of California to investigate the surgeries after The Center for 
Investigative Reporting broke the story 
<http://cironline.org/reports/female-inmates-sterilized-california-prisons-without-approval-4917> 
nearly a year ago. That probe has not been completed.

Former inmates and prisoner advocates have claimed that prison medical 
staffers coerced the women, targeting those deemed likely to return to 
prison after they were released. The new audit notes that all women 
receiving tubal ligations in state prisons from 2005 to 2013 had been 
incarcerated at least once before. However, prison medical officials 
have denied any ill intent.

In addition, the audit found:

    * Inmates receiving tubal ligations typically were between 26 and 40
      and had been pregnant five or more times before being sterilized.
      Fifty white women, 53 Latino women, 35 black women and six women
      classified as "other" received the procedure.
    * Most of the women tested at less than a high school level of
      reading proficiency, the report stated, with about one-third of
      the inmates who received the surgery reading below the sixth-grade
      level.
    * In 27 cases, the inmate's physician -- the person who would
      perform the procedure in a hospital or an alternate physician --
      did not sign the required consent form asserting that the patient
      appeared to be mentally competent and understood the lasting
      effects of the procedure and that the required waiting period had
      been satisfied*. *
    * There were 18 cases with potential violations of the required
      waiting period between when the inmate consented and when the
      surgery actually took place. State law mandates a 30-day wait to
      ensure patients aren't pressured or rushed. The audit also found
      that some doctors falsified the consent forms, indicating the
      proper waiting period had passed when it clearly had not.

The audit noted that the federal receiver's office, which took over 
medical care in the state's prisons in 2006, maintains that it has no 
legal duty to make sure prison employees comply with the consent 
procedures, which Lieu called "ludicrous."

Liz Gransee, spokeswoman for the federal prison receiver, confirmed that 
the office's lawyers disagree with the audit's conclusions. Nonetheless, 
Gransee said the office will implement the audit's recommendations. In 
the audit, the office says it has initiated staff training, among other 
measures.

Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, and Sen. Hannah-Beth 
Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, of the California Legislative Women's Caucus 
had requested the state audit 
<http://cironline.org/reports/california-legislators-urge-speedy-inquiry-prison-sterilizations-5133> 
in August in response to CIR's investigation.

Today, Jackson described the results as shocking.

"Based upon the auditor's report, the problem is far more systemic," she 
said. "We now have clear proof that the prison environment is an 
environment where consent simply cannot be obtained in a responsible, 
reliable manner for these procedures."

Cynthia Chandler, an adjunct professor at the Golden Gate University 
School of Law and co-founder of the Oakland-based prisoner rights group 
Justice Now, called the report a good first step. She also called for 
state reparation for the women who were sterilized.

Justice Now has been raising questions about prison sterilizations since 
the early 2000s, after receiving medical reports and allegations of 
abuse from incarcerated women.

"We were dismissed as heretics despite having evidence abuse and illegal 
sterilizations were occurring," Chandler said. "This report feels like 
an incredible step and vindication for people who work toward 
challenging human rights abuses."

The state auditor urged federal officials to forward the names of 
physicians involved in the illegal surgeries to the Medical Board and 
the state Department of Public Health for further investigation and 
disciplinary action. That would include 39 cases, 17 doctors and eight 
hospitals.

Lieu said he wants more action. He said he will ask the Medical Board to 
investigate nearly all of the sterilization cases on the basis that they 
were done without required state approvals. He also demanded a formal 
apology from the federal receiver's office.

"The federal judiciary took over our state prison system, and they are 
responsible," Lieu said. "These gross failures demonstrate again why the 
judicial branch is ill-equipped to run a large, complex prison system."

CIR's investigation, published in July, found that 132 women received 
tubal ligations in violation of prison rules from 2006 to 2010. As many 
as 100 more women may have undergone questionable operations since the 
late 1990s.

CIR found that inmates were signed up for the surgery while pregnant at 
two women's prisons that housed pregnant inmates: the California 
Institution for Women in Corona or Valley State Prison for Women in 
Chowchilla. Valley State became a men's prison in 2013.

Federal officials have said none of the tubal ligations performed since 
2006 received the required signoff by a state-level committee of medical 
professionals.

State prison data indicate that more than half the surgeries from 2006 
to 2010 -- 74 -- were requested by Valley State. More than two-thirds of 
those requests came from Dr. James Heinrich 
<http://cironline.org/reports/calif-prison-doctor-linked-sterilizations-no-stranger-controversy-5859>, Valley State's 
OB-GYN, or a nurse on his staff, according to the prison's medical 
service request records.

Heinrich previously told CIR that the money spent sterilizing inmates 
was minimal "compared to what you save in welfare paying for these 
unwanted children -- as they procreated more."

In response to the CIR's investigation, Jackson introduced a bill 
<http://cironline.org/reports/bill-seeks-new-restrictions-sterilizations-california-prisons-5985> 
that would ban all inmate sterilizations for birth control purposes. 
Under SB1135, such surgeries would be performed only during 
life-threatening emergencies and to cure physical illness.

Prisons performing sterilizations would be required to report annually 
the number of surgeries by race, age, reason and surgical method. The 
bill also provides legal protections for any personnel who report abuses.

The Senate approved the measure last month. It is now before the Assembly.

/This story was edited by Amy Pyle and copy edited by Nikki Frick. /

-- 
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://freedomarchives.org/pipermail/ppnews_freedomarchives.org/attachments/20140620/a56212df/attachment.html>


More information about the PPnews mailing list