[JURIST] California Governor Jerry Brown was a presented with a bill [SB 1135, text] on Tuesday to ban sterilization of female inmates in California after the California Senate [official websites] unanimously voted to pass the law. The bill bans any form of sterilization in a correctional facility for the purposes of birth control unless there is a medical necessity and there is no other alternate procedure available. Specifically, the bill protects inmates against tubal ligation following a June audit [text, PDF] of jail records indicating that errors were made in obtaining consent for 39 of 144 inmates who received tubal ligation between 2005 and 2011. The bill also contains a provision protecting whistleblowers from retaliation for reporting violations.
The US prison system has faced controversy for years for its treatment of inmates, particularly the mentally ill. Earlier this month the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) [official website] proposed new policies for use of force against mentally ill inmates. In June Colorado passed a bill [JURIST report] that would limit the use of traditional solitary confinement on inmates diagnosed with mental illness. In October 2013 a federal judge ordered the release [JURIST report] of a detainee at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder] who suffered from severe mental illness. In October 2012 the US Supreme Court [official website] allowed the last-minute stay [JURIST report] of the planned execution of a mentally ill Florida prisoner. The Disability Law Center of Massachusetts [advocacy website] sued [JURIST report] that state's prisons as far back as March 2007 for violating the rights of mentally ill prisoners.