Some Alabama sex offenders will be required to undergo “chemical castration” before parole release, under a new law. On Monday, Gov. Kay Ivey signed the bill, despite objections from human rights groups.
AP News reports that the controversial law will involve a convicted child sexual offender taking medication that decreases sex drive by blocking testosterone. According to officials, the medication will be used for child sex offenders on parole who were convicted of abusing children between the ages of 7 and 13.
Prior to parole release, the convicted criminals must take the medication before they’re let out of prison. They then have to follow up with additional doses administered by an Alabama Health Department employee.
The law doesn’t apply to those who abused children under the age of 6 since parole is not allowed in such cases.
The law, however, is receiving backlash from people who claim it violates constitutional rights.
“It presents serious issues, involving involuntary medical treatment, informed consent, privacy and cruel and unusual punishment,” policy analyst with the ACLU of Alabama, Dillon Nettles, said, according to the outlet.
The sponsor of the bill, Republican Rep. Steve Hurst of Munford, said the true punishment and inhumane treatment is what the convicted sex offenders did to children, according to Al.com.
“How in the world can it be any more cruel and inhumane than to molest a child? I want someone to answer that one for me, but they can’t.”
Dr. Frederick Berlin, of Johns Hopkins Hospital, said that a “blanket” treatment for sex offenders could end up backfiring, as the medication may not be the appropriate measure for each person. For instance, Berlin said the medication could be ineffective for criminals who were on drugs or those with mental issues.
Further, Berlin said the medication may not work for female child sex offenders, due to hormonal balance during menstruation.
“Speaking now as a physician, I think it’s absolutely inappropriate to use a medical treatment as a criminal sanction.”
Lawmakers in Alabama argued that the law is constitutional since the offender would be voluntarily choosing the medication. If they decide they don’t want the medication, they have the right to serve out their prison sentence instead of being released on parole.
Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Cam Ward stressed that the medication is not mandatory, but in his opinion, anyone who hurt children should die.
“If they are going to mark those children for life, they need to be marked for life. … My real feelings are that they need to die.”
California, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, and Texas also have forms of chemical castration laws in place. Georgia and Oregon once had chemical castration pilots and statutes in place that were later repealed.
The new law will start later this year.
[Feature Photo: Pixabay]