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Va. Man, 27, Agrees to Vasectomy to Reduce Prison Term

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on June 24, 2014 2:10 PM

A Virginia man accused of child endangerment has agreed to get a vasectomy in exchange for a reduced prison term.

To some, the plea deal recalls Virginia's dark history of forced sterilizations during the eugenics movement of the early- to mid-20th century. But according to The Associated Press, prosecutors see the deal as being the best way to keep the man in the case -- who reportedly has at least seven children with six women -- from fathering any more children.

What led to this unorthodox deal?

Child Endangerment Charges

Jessie Lee Herald, 27, of Edinburg, was facing child endangerment charges in addition to charges of hit-and-run and driving on a suspended license. He was arrested after a crash that injured his 3-year-old son.

Herald was facing up to five years in prison on the child endangerment charge alone, a Class 6 felony under Virginia law. But prosecutors offered Herald the chance to serve just 20 months in prison, if he agreed to the terms of their plea deal: Get a vasectomy within one year of being released from prison.

'A Difficult Decision'

Herald's attorney Charles Ramsay told the AP that accepting the deal was "not a no-brainer" for Herald, characterizing it as "a difficult decision." In addition to having the surgery, under the terms of the deal, Herald must also pay for it.

Both sides disagree with any comparisons to the state's history as one of the last holdouts of the eugenics movement in which, according to the ACLU, thousands of Virginians were forcibly sterilized after being deemed "unfit to procreate." (Virginia's 1924 Eugenical Sterilization Act became the model for many other states' programs after it was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1927 Buck v. Bell.)

As for Herald, he'll likely "have to provide documentation to his probation officer" after he undergoes the vasectomy, the prosecutor told Northern Virginia Daily. Herald is also barred from reversing the procedure while he's on probation.

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