Alabama has passed a bill that would require child sex offenders to be chemically castrated before they are released from prison.
The bill was introduced by a Republican member of the State House of Representatives and it now needs to be signed by Governor Kay Ivey to be made into law.
Republican law maker Steve Hurst says a chemical castration is the appropriate punishment for convicted child sex offenders.
‘They have marked this child for life and the punishment should fit the crime,’ he told CBS 42.
It’s likely the bill will face criticism from civil libertarians who say the punishment is a violation of the eighth amendment of the American constitution which prohibits the government from inflicting ‘cruel and unusual punishments’ on its citizens.
Critics have also noted the side effects from taking drugs to reduce sexual urges, which include life threatening blood clots and allergic reactions.
However, Hurst maintains the punishment is still fitting of the crime:
I had people call me in the past when I introduced it and said don’t you think this is inhumane?
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.
If you want to talk about inhumane – that’s inhumane.
He adds that chemical castration will act as a deterrent against those who may commit child sexual offences in the future:
If we do something of this nature it would deter something like this happening again in Alabama and maybe reduce the numbers.
Chemical castration is when drugs are taken to reduce libido and sexual activity, without removing any of the sexual organs. While it is considered as being ‘reversible’ ceasing to have any effect once the drugs are no longer taken, permanent effects can sometimes be seen in as in the case of bone density loss increasing after prolonged use of the drug.
Eight states have permitted some form of chemical or surgical castration for sex offenders since the 1990s, although it has rarely been carried out.
California was the first state to allow chemical castration for some sex offenders, requiring them to take receive medroxyprogesterone (MPA), which is an artificial female hormone used to treat side effects of the menopause.
Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Oregon, Montana, and Wisconsin also have laws which allow courts to order castration on an offenders release from prison, while in Louisiana it can be used to reduce or suspend a prison sentence for a sexual offender.
Unlike the bill which has been passed in Alabama; California, Florida, and Louisiana give sex offenders the option of chemical or surgical castration, which is the physical removal of testicles.
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Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist who started her career by producing The Royal Rosemurgey newspaper in 2004, which kept her family up to date with the goings on of her sleepy north east village. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining Tyla (formerly Pretty 52) in 2017, and progressing onto UNILAD in 2019.