Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed legislation on Monday that would require certain types of sex offenders to undergo chemical castration before their parole is granted. The bill, which is scheduled to take effect later this year in September, was passed by lawmakers last week.
The new law, known as HB 379, would apply to those sex offenders who had been convicted of certain crimes that involved children under the age of 13. The bill does not include a grandfather clause, so it only applies to those who commit their sex offenses after September 1, 2019. The bill was introduced by Republican state Rep. Steve Hurst who said of convicted pedophiles that because they have "marked this child for life and the punishment should fit the crime."
Chemical castration involves the injection of medication that blocks the production of the testosterone hormone. Certain offenders would be required to take the medication a month before they are eligible for release from prison. A judge has the option to decide if or when the medication should be stopped. Offenders would be required to pay for their treatment, which would be administered by an Alabama Department of Health official.
Offenders also have the option to cease taking the medication and return to prison to serve out the remainder of their term. Those who stop taking the medication without a judge's order would be guilty of a Class C felony, which is punishable by up to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000 under Alabama law.
The drug does not remove or shrink the testes, nor does it sterilize the person taking the medication. Chemical castration is generally reversible after treatment is discontinued. At least seven other states including Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Oregon, Texas and Wisconsin have experimented with using chemical castration, but there's little data available on how often it is used.
"I had people call me in the past when I introduced it and said, 'Don't you think this is inhumane?'" Hurst told WIAT-TV. "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."
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