Montgomery, AL – The Alabama legislature has passed a bill mandating chemical castration for adult sex offenders who abuse children under the age of 13.
Under HB 379, child molesters and rapists would be required to undergo “chemical castration treatment” prior to being granted parole, and that treatment would continue “until the court determines…[it] is no longer necessary.”
Representative Steve Hurst, who introduced the bill, said that the requirement will apply to offenders over the age of 21, WIAT reported.
Perpetrators would also be responsible for the cost of treatment, unless the court finds them to be indigent.
According to University of California Berkeley law professor Frank Zimring, “chemical castration” is not literal castration, and refers to using testosterone-inhibiting drugs to diminish offenders’ sex drives, WUSA reported.
“Chemical castration is half advertising slogan, half fantasy,” Zimring explained. “There are chemicals which are supposed to, if dosages are maintained, reduce sex drives…That isn’t castration.”
The effects of the treatment can be reversed, do not result in infertility, and may not be effective in eliminating the sex drive for all offenders, The Washington Post reported.
Although parolees could elect to discontinue treatment at any time and would not be forced to participate, “such refusal shall constitute a violation of his or her parole and he or she shall be immediately remanded to the custody of the Department of Corrections for the remainder of the sentence,” according to the bill.
Offenders who intentionally stop participating in treatment would also face a potential additional felony charge under the legislation, which is punishable by up to a decade in prison, The Washington Post reported.
The bill was successfully passed by lawmakers, and is currently awaiting Alabama Governor Kay Ivey’s signature.
"I had people call me in the past when I introduced it and said ‘don't you think this is inhumane?’” Hurst acknowledged to WIAT.
“I asked them what's more inhumane than when you take a little infant child, and you sexually molest that infant child when the child cannot defend themselves or get away, and they have to go through all the things they have to go through?” he said. “If you want to talk about inhumane - that's inhumane.”
Hurst said he hopes that the legislation will act as a deterrent, and that the number of new child sexual assault victims in Louisiana will decrease.
But attorney Raymond Johnson argued that molesting children is already an offense with serious consequences, and said that the measure will be challenged even if Ivey signs it into law.
“They're going to challenge it under the 8th Amendment of the United States Constitution,” Johnson said. “They're going to claim that it is cruel and unusual punishment for someone who has served their time and for the rest of their life have to be castrated."
Wisconsin, Oregon, Montana, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, and California also have laws that permit some form of chemical castration, WUSA reported.