a California Prison Eugenics Storify

You may not want to click in, but sometimes all that’s left is for us to bear witness…and remember forever.


We are coming up on the 100-year anniversary of the infamous 1927 Supreme Court case Buck v. Bell, upholding a statute of compulsory sterilization of the unfit “for the protection & health of the state,” & set a precedent for states to legally sterilize people in prisons.”

@ScottHech  Feb 25

Keep context in mind: -Women are fastest growing prison population -Nearly 80% are mothers -44% are Black -3/4 of are of child-bearing age (18-44) -92% of women in CA prisons have been “battered or abused” in lifetimes -231k women incarcerated. 1.3 women on state supervision

‘Belly of the Beast: California’s dark history of forced sterilizations; Documentary tells story of state-sanctioned process in prisons as activists fight for a reparations bill’, June 30, 2020, theguardian.com (a brief excerpt)

“California banned coerced sterilizations as means of birth control in prisons in 2014, driven in part by Dillon’s testimony. The law requires local jails and state prisons to track and report surgeries and also provides whistleblower protections. While the bill passed unanimously, its carefully negotiated language allowed the state to escape further responsibility. “Their position was that they didn’t want to admit anything or apologize for any wrongdoing or have any real culpability,” said Chandler about the state.

The bill also didn’t address the long and ugly history of forced sterilizations in the state outside of its prisons.

At the turn of the 20th century, the eugenics movements captivated much of white America, fueled by a zealous faith that the burgeoning field of genetics could socially engineer away America’s “ills”, including poverty, crime and “feeblemindedness”. Thirty-two states had sterilization laws, but California’s program was unrivaled. It contributed to a third of total national sterilizations, and set an example for Nazi Germany’s sterilization laws.

From 1909 to 1979, under the state eugenics laws, California forcibly sterilized about 20,000 people in state institutions who were deemed “unfit to produce”. The program disproportionately targeted the Latino community, women, people with disabilities and impairments – even those who had children out of wedlock. The mean age of victims was 17, and they included children as young as 12.”

Subtweeter Christian Larson added another horror story:

My apologies for not separating the doubled ones, although I’d tried customizing with ‘don’t show the replies’.

2 responses to “a California Prison Eugenics Storify

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