Female inmates sterilized

State launches review of sterilizations allegedly performed without approval

A review of unauthorized sterilizations of female state-prison inmates has been approved and fast-tracked by California’s Joint Legislative Audit Committee.

Between 2006 and 2010, at least 148 women incarcerated in California’s state-prison system were sterilized without the required approval, while another 100 were likely illegally sterilized dating back to the late 1990s, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting. On Aug. 22, members of the audit committee asked the State Auditor’s office to make the review its highest priority.

State Auditor Elaine Howle said her office will analyze each sterilization case from the past eight years and determine the inmates’ economic status, ethnicity, race, and number of prison terms, pregnancies and births. The audit will also determine whether consent was provided and how that consent was obtained.

California banned forced sterilizations in 1979.