Nashville’s district attorney recently banned his staff from using invasive surgery as a bargaining chip, after it became apparent that local attorneys had been using sterilization as part of plea bargains.
In the most recent case, a woman with a long history of mental illness was charged with neglect after her young baby died. Jasmine Randers, 26, suffers from paranoia and had fled from a Minnesota treatment facility where she was under state commitment. The district attorney refused to go forward with a plea unless she agreed to be sterilized.
The cause of Randers’ baby’s death could not be determined. A cab driver who drove her to a hotel the night before she brought the baby to a hospital claims the baby was screaming, but stopped completely during the ride. Prosecutors speculated that the child could have suffocated in Randers’ coat during the cab ride, died as a result of unexplained infant death syndrome, or been accidentally crushed to death by Randers while she slept. According to an investigation by the Tennessean , the child was healthy and there were no signs of traumatic injury.
Nonetheless, Randers was hit with a neglect charge that carried a sentence of 15-25 years behind bars. The charge stemmed from the fact that no bottles of formula were found in the hotel; she took a taxi to the hospital instead of an ambulance; and the amount of time it took her to notify anyone about the baby’s death. The Tennessean report quotes Randers as saying, “I believe I was very sick and I, I guess, she was very sick, and I came here without a lot of money. And she ended up dying prior to the hospital where she was pronounced dead. Ever since then we’ve been trying to figure out how much I was responsible for that.”