A prosecutor in Nashville, Tenn., was fired after reports emerged that he had demanded that women involved in some plea negotiations undergo sterilization, the Associated Press reports.
Brian Holmgren, a former Davidson County assistant district attorney, told AP on Wednesday that he had been fired. He declined to say why he was dismissed, and officials would not discuss what prompted his dismissal.
But the move comes after an investigation by AP revealed that sterilization surgery was used as part of plea bargains at least four times in the past five years in child abuse and neglect cases.
The most recent case, first reported by the Tennessean, involved Jasmine Randers, 36, who had a 20-year history of mental illness. She had been charged with neglect after her 5-day-old baby mysteriously died, the report says. And her defense attorney says the prosecutor assigned to the case refused to move forward with a plea deal to keep the woman out of prison unless she had the surgery.
Davidson County District Attorney Glenn Funk, a former defense attorney who took over the office in September, recently barred lawyers in the office from demanding sterilization as part of plea bargains, AP notes. “The bottom line is the government can’t be ordering a forced sterilization,” Funk told AP.
While shocking, coerced sterilization by the U.S. legal system is not new. The practice “evokes a dark time in America, when minorities, the poor and those deemed mentally unfit or ‘deficient’ were forced to undergo medical procedures that prevented them from having children,” AP writes.
Read more at CBS News.