On Tuesday, Alabama lawmakers passed a bill that would make chemical castration mandatory for convicted child sex offenders before they can be released from prison. Both the state Senate and House have approved the measure, though it still needs to be signed into law by the governor. If signed, Alabama would become the ninth state to permit court-ordered chemical castration.
Steve Hurst, who represents Calhoun County and introduced the bill, said that chemical castration is an appropriate punishment for convicted child sex offenders.
“They have marked this child for life, and the punishment should fit the crime,” said Hurst, according to a report by the Daily Mail.
The bill does face opposition, including those who say the requirement violates the Eighth Amendment, which bars “cruel and unusual punishments.”
Critics also assert that the drugs that would be used to reduce sexual urges in convicted child sex offenders can lead to potentially serious side effects, including fatal blood clots and allergic reactions.
Hurst, however, believes that chemical castration is still appropriate.
“I had people call me in the past when I introduced it and said don’t you think this is inhumane?” Hurst stated. “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 also believes that chemical castration can serve as a deterrent to others.
“If we do something of this nature it would deter something like this happening again in Alabama and maybe reduce the numbers,” Hurst stated.
California was the first state to make chemical castration mandatory for certain sex offenders, requiring them to take medroxyprogesterone (MPA), an artificial hormone usually used in women to treat menopause symptoms.
When men take MPA, testosterone levels drop to pre-puberty levels.
The other states that allow court-required castration are Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Montana, Oregon, and Wisconsin. In California, Florida, and Louisiana, sex offenders can choose between chemical and surgical castration. With surgical castration, the testicles are physically removed.