(Angela Greenburg Reporting)
New information has surfaced about illegal medical practices inside California women's prisons.
According to public records, nearly 150 former and current female inmates were sterilized against prison rules.
Prisoners' advocates call the information appalling, saying women were violated and targeted simply because they were in prison.
State officials who oversee medical care inside prisons have acknowledged wrongdoing but say the issue is no longer an issue.
Debbie Reyes with the California Prison Moratorium Project said, "You know, these women are paying their debt to society already and this is a lifetime sentence to them and to be able to go home and start a family or continue a family, or grow a family they won't be able to because of this issue."
Reyes works closely with Justice Now, a prison right's advocate group. She says public records show that 148 female inmates housed at the former Valley State Women's Prison in Chowchilla, and the Institution for Women in Corona were sterilized, without proper state approval. "To me, it feels like a form of genocide, another form of genocide," said Reyes.
Inmates claim doctors pressured them into tubal ligation, sometimes while they were already in labor. "Women were in fact coerced or they were no notified that they were being sterilized."
The State Correctional Health Care Department says some surgeries were not medically necessary, therefore, against the law. "what we found is that our clinicians were not informed of the regulation put in place," said Joyce Hayhoe with the California Correctional Health Department.
State officials say better tracking and protocols have been in place since 2010 and no procures have taken place since.
Justice Now also says there's evidence to suggest that about 100 more sterilization surgeries took place in the 1990's and the group says they plan to file lawsuits on behalf of the affected inmates sometime in the near future.
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