(NaturalNews) A Virginia man and father of children with several women has agreed to get a vasectomy in order to reduce his prison sentence by as many as five years from his child endangerment sentence, in a case that has brought up the country's dark history of force sterilization.
Reports noted that none of the charges against Jessie Lee Herald, 27, involved any sexual offenses, but Ilona White, an assistant prosecutor for Shenandoah County, said that her primary motivation for making the unusual offer was to keep Herald from fathering even more children than the seven he currently has with six mothers.
"He needs to be able to support the children he already has when he gets out," White said. She also noted that Herald and the state would both reap benefits from the deal, which was first reported by the Northern Virginia Daily.
Thousands fall victim to eugenics
As reported by The Associated Press:
"Though Herald willingly -- if reluctantly, according to his attorney -- signed on to the deal, the agreement immediately calls to mind the surgical sterilizations carried out in Virginia and dozens of other states during the 20th century under the discredited pseudoscience called eugenics," said Brandon Garrett, a University of Virginia law professor.
"This takes on the appearance of social engineering," Steve Benjamin of Richmond, past president of the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, told the AP. He added that he has never heard of a case like this case.
From the 1920s to around 1970, about 8,000 people who were deemed genetically inferior or deficient were forcibly sterilized in Virginia. A number of other states also had eugenics programs, but shut them down after World War II when forced sterilizations became very closely aligned psychologically with Nazi Germany's attempts to foster racial purity.
Overall, the movement saw the forced sterilization of perhaps tens of thousands of people, mostly those individuals who were mentally disabled, of a minority group or poor. North Carolina, the only state that is offering to compensate victims of its eugenics program, gave people until June 30 to apply for the payments.
Herald's attorney, Charles Ramsey, along with White, disagreed with any notion that the plea deal for Herald, who is white, is similar in any way to a eugenics program.
"I would never agree with that line of thinking. That was nowhere in my thought process," White said. Added Ramsey, "I understand the comparison, but I don't think it's fair. That's kind of exaggerating it."
Herald was sentenced in June to one year and eight months in prison for a hit and run, child endangerment and driving while on a suspended license; he was involved in a crash in which police said his three-year-old son was bloodied, but was otherwise not hurt seriously.
As further noted by the AP:
"The agreement requires Herald to undergo the operation within a year of being released from prison and prohibits him from having the vasectomy reversed while he is on probation."
"I don't think even he knows"
In addition, Herald will have to pay for the procedure himself, which can cost anywhere from between a few hundred dollars to more than $1,000. Ramsey told AP that the reason his client has a year to get the surgery was to give him the time to raise the necessary funds.
Charles Herald said that his nephew, who has worked in a poultry plant and as a roofer, has supported some of his children, but was unable to say just how many children he has.
"I don't think even he knows," Charles Herald said.
Ramsey said that, as Herald's attorney, he had an ethical duty to pass along White's highly unusual offer for a plea deal.
"It was not a no-brainer for him," Ramsey told the AP. "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."