Child sex offenders convicted in Alabama will receive chemical castration with drugs to suppress their sexual urges before being released from prison. The move is part of legislation sent to the governor for approval on May 31. It is expected to be signed into law this week.
The Alabama State Legislature overwhelmingly passed House Bill 379 (HB379), legislating mandatory “chemical castration in addition to any other penalty or condition prescribed by law” for anyone eligible for parole and convicted of a sex offense involving someone 13 years old or younger.
Unlike surgical castration, which involves the severing of one’s genitals, chemical castration uses drugs to suppress sexual urges.
The bill passed by both the House (72 votes for and 16 against) and Senate (27 for unopposed) has been forwarded to Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R). It empowers the Department of Public Health to administer the treatment and make the convict pay for all associated expenses or otherwise be charged with violating a condition of parole.
“This bill would require the parolee to pay for the cost of the treatment, provided the bill would prohibit a person from being denied parole because of indigency,” according to the bill. “If a person is ordered to undergo chemical castration treatment as a condition of parole, and the person refuses to undergo the treatment, his or her refusal would constitute a violation of parole and would result in the person being remanded to the custody of the Department of Corrections.”
State Rep. Steve Hurst (R-Calhoun County) introduced the bill, hoping it would make sex offenders think twice about reoffending.
“If we do something of this nature, it would deter something like this happening again in Alabama and maybe reduce the numbers,” he told CBS42. “They have marked this child for life and the punishment should fit the crime.”
Attorney Raymond Johnson said there is likely to be community opposition to the bill via legal avenues since child molestation is already a serious offense punishable with prison time and probation after parole.
“There going to challenge it under the 8th Amendment Constitution,” he said. “There 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.”
Although Hurst acknowledges the bill appears harsh, he believes it’s still better than allowing vulnerable children to continue to be exposed to sex predators.
“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,” he said. “If you want to talk about inhumane—that’s inhumane.”