Criminal Justice

Alabama governor signs chemical castration law; it's not the first state to authorize it

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Kay Ivey

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

On Monday, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, signed into law a bill that requires sex offenders whose victims were younger than age 13 to receive chemical castration as a condition of parole.

The Alabama law requires parolees to pay for the procedure, unless they can’t afford it, report, the New York Times, USA Today, Rolling Stone and the Washington Post.

The Alabama Department of Public Health will administer the testosterone-blocking injections until a judge decides that it no longer is necessary. Parolees who intentionally end the mandated treatment are guilty of a felony that carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.

Alabama isn’t the first state to authorize the treatments. Seven other states and U.S. territories allow sex offenders to take the drug as a condition as sentencing, release or supervision, according to the Washington Post, which cites information from the National Conference of State Legislatures. The seven jurisdictions are California, Florida, Guam, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana and Wisconsin.

Chemical castration laws in other states are rarely used, according to Randall Marshall, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, who spoke with the Washington Post. His group opposes the bill, citing issues with due process, privacy, and cruel and unusual punishment.

“I think sexual assault has always been more than just about sex,” Marshall told the Washington Post. “It’s about power, it’s about exercising control over someone else and a variety of other things.”

Republican state Rep. Steve Hurst of Calhoun County sponsored the Alabama bill. He previously proposed surgical castration for sex offenders who abuse children younger than age 13. He told WIAT-TV he doesn’t consider the treatments to be inhumane. “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,” he said.

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