(TMU) — A new measure in Alabama may see sex offenders in the state undergoing chemical castration as a condition of parole—and the offenders would also have to foot the bill for the treatment.
The bill, HB 379, is currently “in the review process” after being approved late last month by both houses of the state’s legislature, according to a spokesperson for Governor Kay Ivey.
The legislation would require anyone “convicted of a sex offense involving a person under the age of 13” to undergo chemical castration treatment a month ahead of release from custody and to continue the treatment “until the court determines the treatment is no longer necessary.” Offenders would also have to pay for the procedure, but a denial of their parole could not be based “solely” on an inability to pay.
Chemical castration is defined in the bill as “the receiving of medication, including, but not limited to, medroxyprogesterone acetate treatment or its chemical equivalent, that, among other things, reduces, inhibits, or blocks the production of testosterone, hormones, or other chemicals in a person’s body,” according to AL.com.
If a given offender chooses to halt the treatment, the move would be treated as a violation of parole, forcing the offender to resume their incarceration.
Republican Rep. Steve Hurst, who put forward the bill, has emphatically defended the measure from accusations that it may be draconian or inhumane.
Hurst told local outlet WIAT:
“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?’ If you want to talk about inhumane, that’s inhumane.
They have marked this child for life and the punishment should fit the crime.”
Hurst has pushed for similar bills requiring the surgical castration of child sex offenders in 2013, 2014, and 2016 but the three measures failed to make it out of committee.
The use of chemical and surgical castration has come under fire from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who have argued that the bill raises constitutional concerns and is akin to cruel and unusual punishment, as well as a violation of a person’s right to privacy.
Despite such concerns, several states have versions of chemical castration on the books. In 1996, California became the first state to pass a chemical castration law. Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Montana, Oregon and Washington also require certain sex offenders to be chemically castrated, while Texas permits repeat sex offenders to voluntarily undergo surgical castration if they so choose.