On Monday night, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed legislation requiring sex offenders of children younger than 13 to undergo chemical castration before they can go on parole.
Through chemical castration, sex offenders convicted of certain crimes involving victims under the age of 13 will be required to take medication that “reduces, inhibits, or blocks the production of testosterone, hormones, or other chemicals in a person’s body,” as a condition of their parole, the law reads.
Under the law, the sex offender will be required to start the treatment one month before being released on parole, and must pay for the medication unless a court determines they can’t, according to AL.com. The new law will go into effect later this year, and will apply to people who commit such crimes after Sept. 1.
Republican Alabama state Rep. Steve Hurst had pushed for chemical castration legislation for more than a decade, and had sponsored the 2019 bill as well. Hurst told AL.com that he wanted to pass the bill in order to stop the sexual abuse of children. From AL.com:
“I’m very serious,” Hurst said. “Not only did I want it to pass, I want to follow it on through to the future where we can try to improve it. One of the ultimate goals that I want to do is for us to track it and to make sure what medication works for what individuals.”
Hurst said he’s heard from many victims of sexual abuse supporting the effort.
“It’s amazing how many phone calls and how many emails I’ve gotten,” Hurst said. “People not just in the state of Alabama but all over the world, things they went through.”
Alabama is now the seventh state to pass a law allowing or requiring the castration of sex offenders, either surgical or chemical, joining California, Florida, Louisiana, Montana, Texas, and Wisconsin, according to NBC News. In most cases, the treatment is reversible and is a voluntary election allowed to parolees in exchange for an approved or sped-up parole.
Randall Marshall, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama, told AL.com that these chemical castration laws have rarely been enacted. However, despite the handful of states that have passed similar measures, Marshall said chemical castration hasn’t been proven to work.
According to the Washington Post, experts say that the treatment isn’t a blanket cure for sex offenders. There have been limited studies examining the effectiveness of the treatment, though a review of such studies showed that some found the treatment to be effective, while others did not. One Korean study (South Korea became the first Asian country to legalize the treatment in 2011) noted that “a clear cause-and-effect relationship between testosterone levels and sexual offending remains uncertain.”
“They really misunderstand what sexual assault is about,” Marshall told NBC affiliate WSFA. “Sexual assault isn’t about sexual gratification. It’s about power. It’s about control.”