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Ala. lawmakers pass bill approving chemical castration for child molesters

Ala. lawmakers pass bill approving chemical castration for child molesters

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey in a video on April 10, 2018. | (Screenshot: YouTube/Governor Kay Ivey)

Lawmakers in Alabama have approved a bill that would require chemical castration for certain child molesters before they are released on parole and they would also have to pay for the treatment.

Chemical castration is the use of medication to reduce testosterone, hormones and other chemicals that drive libido.

The bill, known as HB 379, was introduced by Republican State Representative Steve Hurst. It targets those "convicted of a sex offense involving a person under the age of 13 years who is eligible for parole."

These offenders would have to begin treatment at least one month prior to their release from custody "and shall continue receiving treatment until the court determines the treatment is no longer necessary."

Offenders would also be required to pay for the treatment but "may not be denied parole based solely on his or her inability to pay for the costs associated with the treatment."

"They have marked this child for life and the punishment should fit the crime," Hurst said, according to CBS 42.

The Republican lawmaker, who has introduced the bill before, said he is hoping that the law would make offenders think twice before molesting a child.

"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," said Hurst. "If you want to talk about inhumane — that's inhumane.

"If we do something of this nature it would deter something like this happening again in Alabama and maybe reduce the numbers.”

The bill is now before Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey.

Lori Jhons, a spokesperson for Ivey, who is a Republican, told CNN on Wednesday morning the bill remained "in the review process."

According to Catholic Lane, chemical castration is currently used in Portugal, Denmark, Germany, Poland, Moldova, Macedonia, Estonia, Israel, Australia, India and Russia and other countries.

California was the first U.S. state to approve the use of chemical castration for repeat child molesters as a condition of their parole. States like Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Oregon, Texas and Wisconsin, have also experimented with chemical castration.

While there are many arguments for and against the use of chemical castration, Fr. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, director of education at The National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia, told Catholic Lane that for offenders who seem to be locked into sexual overdrive, using testosterone-lowering drugs could be part of a more broad-based approach which include psychological and other supportive counseling.

Expressing concern, he said, “If the intended goal is actually different, perhaps driven by vengeful motives related to crimes committed, and involved using inappropriate doses of powerful drugs so as to actively strip away any vestige of an offender’s personal sexuality and render him sterile, androgynous, and/or inert, this could raise legitimate ethical concerns about violating that individual’s bodily and personal integrity.

"This would be a concern, of course, regardless of whether the mutilatory procedures were carried out through chemical or physical castration.”

Attorney Raymond Johnson told CBS 42 that offenders are likely to challenge the bill if it becomes law.

"They’re going to challenge it under the 8th Amendment Constitution. They’re 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,” he said.


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