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Alabama Can Now Chemically Castrate Convicted Pedophiles

It may be a violation of the Eighth Amendment.

by Emma Ockerman
Jun 11 2019, 1:44pm

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Some of Alabama’s sex-offender inmates will now be required to undergo chemical castration if they want to be released from prison.

Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, signed a bill into law on Monday that forces sex offenders whose victims are younger than 13 to take a series of pills that greatly reduce sexual libido as a condition of their parole, according to AL.com. The controversial legislation passed through Alabama’s Statehouse last month, despite it being unclear whether chemical castration works to reduce sex crimes. Alabama is the seventh state, including California, Florida, Montana and Louisiana, to have a chemical castration law, although it’s unclear how often the punishment is utilized.

"This bill is a step toward protecting children in Alabama," Ivey said, according to CNN.

The inmates will have to pay for their own treatment unless a court rules that’s unreasonable, and will start the process of chemical castration at least one month before they’re released. If parolees stop taking the medication before a court allows it, they’ll be sent back to prison. The procedure can be reversed, and is not as severe as surgical castration, which would remove a man’s testicles.

Rep. Steve Hurst, a Republican, introduced the legislation multiple times over the past several years, and told AL.com Monday he hopes “to track it and to make sure what medical works for what individuals.” He does not consider the law inhumane, and has previously advocated for surgical castration.

"What’s more inhumane than molesting a small, infant child?' Hurst asked.

However, the bill might contradict the Eighth Amendment, which blocks cruel and unusual punishment. A law professor at the University of Florida, John Stinneford, argued in a 2006 paper that such laws should be struck down. Alabama’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union also thinks it runs afoul of the Eighth Amendment, according to AL.com.

“Because chemical castration is designed both to shackle the mind and cripple the body of sex offenders, it is doubly cruel, and should be struck down as a violation of the Eighth Amendment,” Stinneford wrote.

Cover: In this June 18, 2015, file photo, prisoners stand in a crowded lunch line during a prison tour at Elmore Correctional Facility in Elmore, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)