The penalties for a sex offense conviction are severe: a person could be sentenced to years in prison and be ordered to pay thousands of dollars in fines. In September of 2019, the punishments for some sexual offenders increased. A new law, which was approved by Governor Kay Ivey in June of 2019, requires sexual offenders convicted of offenses involving children under 13 years of age to be chemically castrated before being released from prison.
What Is Chemical Castration?
When a doctor chemically castrates a person, every 30 to 90 days they inject that individual with a mixture of medications. The treatment reduces male testosterone and decreases sex drive. It is considered more humane than surgical castration and is reversible.
How Does the New Law Work?
About a month before the convicted sex offender is released on parole, they are required to begin the chemical castration process. They must continue with the injections until a court deems they are no longer necessary.
The inmate is required to pay for their own injections, the medication for which costs about $1,000. However, if the individual cannot afford the treatment, they cannot be denied release from prison.
What Type of Support & Criticism Did This Measure Receive?
Supporters for chemical castration argued that it would protect the community and reduce recidivism. Representative Steve Hurst, who introduced the bill, said that the people accused with committing sex offenses against children affected them for life, and as such, the alleged offenders should be marked for life as well. He initially sought measures using surgical as opposed to chemical castration.
Those who opposed the measure, such as the ACLU, said such a law violated Eighth Amendment rights, which protects against cruel and unusual punishment. By making inmates undergo the treatments, the government is forcing them to chemically alter their body.
Additionally, chemical castration comes with a number of side effects, which could include:
- Losing hair
- Growing breasts
- Gaining weight
- Developing diabetes
- Losing bone
The law also treats all individuals convicted of a sex crime involving a child under 13 years of age the same. However, not all people have similar circumstances, but will receive the same punishment after serving their sentences.
Is Alabama the First State to Enact Such a Law?
Alabama is not the first state to have a chemical castration law that seeks to prevent individuals from reoffending. California, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, and Wisconsin all have a sex offender treatment statute to varying degrees.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Tidwell Law Group, LLC
With Alabama’s new law in effect, it’s crucial to take a sex crime accusation seriously and seek legal representation from our experienced attorney. We understand how severe the penalties are, which is why we will focus on every detail of your case and will work toward getting charges reduced or dropped.
For competent legal counsel in Birmingham, call us at (205) 800-8596 or contact us online.