ALABAMA state lawmakers have passed a bill that would require child sex offenders to be chemically castrated before their release from prison.
A Republican member of the State House of Representatives introduced the measure, which now needs to be signed into law by Governor Kay Ivey.
Steve Hurst, a Republican lawmaker from Calhoun County, says that chemical castration for convicted child sex offenders is an appropriate punishment.
‘They have marked this child for life and the punishment should fit the crime’ said Hurst.
The measure will likely be fiercely opposed by civil libertarians who say that it is a violation of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.
The amendment prohibits the government from inflicting ‘cruel and unusual punishments’ on Americans.
Critics also note that those required to take drugs to reduce their sexual urges suffer from serious side effects, including life threatening blood clotting and allergic reactions.
Hurst, however, says the punishment fits the crime.
‘I had people call me in the past when I introduced it and said don’t you think this is inhumane?’ he said.
‘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.’
Hurst believes chemical castration will act as a deterrent for future potential criminals.
‘If we do something of this nature it would deter something like this happening again in Alabama and maybe reduce the numbers,’ said Hurst.
Since the mid 1990s, eight states have permitted some form of either chemical or surgical castration of sex offenders, though in practice courts have rarely ordered the treatments to be carried out.
California was the first state to allow chemical castration for certain sex offenders who would be required to receive medroxyprogesterone (MPA), an artificial female hormone used to treat symptoms of menopause.
When used by men, MPA reduces testosterone to pre-puberty levels.
Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Oregon, Montana, and Wisconsin also have laws on the books allowing courts to order castration before a sex offender is released from prison.
In Louisiana, castration is a condition of sentence reduction or suspension.
The castration laws in California, Georgia, Louisiana, Montana, and Wisconsin only apply to sex offenders who have committed crimes against minors.
California, Florida, and Louisiana give sex offenders the option of chemical or surgical castration, which is the physical removal of testicles.