The law will apply to persons who commit sex offenses after Sept. 1 of this year.
Under the new “chemical castration” law, a judge must order anyone convicted of a sex offense involving a child under the age of 13 to start receiving testosterone-inhibiting medication a month before their release from prison.
Most offenders will have to pay for their treatment, which will be administered by the Department of Public Health, until a judge decides the medication is no longer necessary.
Under the law, a judge — and not a doctor — will tell the offender about the effects of the treatment. Offenders can choose at any time to stop getting the medication and return to prison to serve the remainder of their terms.
Anyone who stops receiving the castration treatment without approval will be considered guilty of a Class C felony, punishable under Alabama law by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
“Chemical castration” is a misnomer, as the process leaves the testes intact, can be reversed and does not prevent a man from reproducing. It does not guarantee a man’s sexual urge will be eliminated. (There’s no consensus on whether the process would be effective for women.)
Experts warn that the treatment is not a panacea and should be used with caution. And there are few studies that attempt to determine the success rate of the treatment. A review of several of these studies shows that some found success in offenders who show sexual desire toward children. Others found no significant effect.
State Rep. Steve Hurst who sponsored the bill, said some people have told him that mandated chemical castration 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?’” Hurst told CBS 42.
This is not the first time Hurst has proposed some version of a castration law. His bill in 2011 would have required surgical castration — removing parts of the testes — for people convicted of sex offenses involving children under 13 years old, according to the Anniston Star.
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