Judge Gives Reduced Sentence to Mother Who Got Sterilized on His Recommendation

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
February 9, 2018USshare
Judge Gives Reduced Sentence to Mother Who Got Sterilized on His Recommendation
Summer Thyme Creel. (Oklahoma County Jail)

A federal judge who told a mother she should get sterilized gave her a reduced sentence after she followed his suggestion.

Summer Thyme Creel of Oklahoma tested positive for meth when arrested in 2017 for using counterfeit checks.

Despite being in and out of prison on multiple charges and crimes allegedly committed between January 2017 and January 2018, she tested positive again in December 2017, according to NewsOK.

Based on the fact that the 34-year-old already had seven children and gave up parental rights to six of them; and the overlap of her positive drug tests over the years with her cycles of pregnancy, U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot made the unusual suggestion that Creel be sterilized to prevent further births tainted by hard drugs.

“Comparing the dates of Ms. Creel’s periods of habitual use of crack cocaine and methamphetamine … with the dates of birth of her seven children, it appears highly likely that some of Ms. Creel’s children were conceived, carried, and born while Ms. Creel was a habitual user of these illicit substances,” the judge wrote.

It was clarified that the judge suggested sterilization as opposed to ordering it.

“I spoke with her in detail about it and she voluntarily wanted to do it,” her court-appointed defense attorney, Brett Behenna, told NewsOK.

And the move paid off. Creel was given a reduced sentence of a year in federal prison and three years on supervised release for passing counterfeit checks.

“She will receive a shorter sentence because she made that decision,” U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot said before announcing the punishment, reported NewsOK.

Some experts criticized Friot’s suggestion.

“This case harkens to a long legacy of coercive reproductive policies and practices,” Eesha Pandit, managing partner of the Center for Advancing Innovative Policy, told The Washington Post.

“For decades,” Pandit said, “sterilization was used as a way to control populations considered ‘undesirable’—immigrants, people of color, poor people, those with mental illnesses and disabilities. Tying Ms. Creel’s sentencing to her sterilization formalizes the coercion—the threat of a harsher sentence is manipulative and dangerous, and aligns with a legacy of eugenic practices through the U.S.”

But Friot defended his suggestion, saying the U.S. Supreme Court “has yet to recognize a constitutional right to bring crack- or methamphetamine-addicted babies into this world.”


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