Steve Hurst, a Republican from Munford, Alabama, has introduced a bill that would require sex offenders who have committed offenses against children under the age of 13 to pay for their own chemical castration before being released from state custody.
The Alabama State Legislature overwhelmingly passed House Bill 379 (HB379), legislating mandatory “chemical castration in addition to any other penalty or condition prescribed by law” for anyone eligible for parole and convicted of a sex offense involving someone 13 years old or younger.
He has been issuing similar bills since 2005, but this is the first time a proposed bill has moved beyond committee stage, but this time it has and it has been signed into law by governor Kay Ivey, today, May 6, 2019.
“I’ve often wondered what that child went through, physically and mentally, and what kind of shape he’s in now,” Hurst said to CBS News. “They [sex offenders] have marked these children for life. They will never get over it. And if they’ve marked children for life, they need to be marked for life.”
In the past, some states passed similar laws, but to what extent these regulations are being enforced is unclear. To date, no state has ever passed a law going so far as mandating surgical castration, only voluntary.
The bill, known as HB 379, would require sex offenders to undergo chemical castration upon release from prison.
“If we do something of this nature it would deter something like this happening again in Alabama and maybe reduce the numbers,” Hurst told Texomas Homepage.com.
But Hurst’s ambitious plan has also provoked protests nationwide.
C. Leonard of Prison Reform wrote on Twitter: “There is NO data that confirms this is necessary or even works…its a vile reflection of someone’s personal beliefs.”
She added: “And I do agree it should be challenged under the 8th amendment as cruel and unusual punishment. This bill is simply ridiculous and Steve Hurst should be reprimanded and ousted based on this alone.”
And I do agree it should be challenged under the 8th amendment as cruel and unusual punishment. This bill is simply ridiculous and Steve Hurst should be reprimanded and ousted based on this alone.
— PrisonReformMovement (C.Leonard) (@PrisonReformMvt) June 4, 2019
Civil rights groups like the American Civil Liberties Union also deemed mandatory chemical castration a “cruel and unusual punishment.”
Hurst told Texomas reporters: “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.”
Dr. Frederick Berlin, founder of a sexual disorders clinic at John Hopkins University, said in an interview with CBS News in 2016, that in some instances lowering testosterone levels can help reduce libido and sexual urges, and may have an effect on recidivism.
But not all sex offenses are sexually motivated, Berlin said: “There are many sex offenders who aren’t driven by intense sexual urges. Some of these folks have other mental health issues, so it could just lull us into a false sense of security.”
He added: “Just to do it as a one-glove-fits-all is very unlikely to be helpful. I do think there is a role for medicines that lower sexual drive and enable people to be in better control. But this should be through a collaborative effort between the criminal justice and the scientific medical community.”
Attorney Raymond Johnson told Texomas he foresees significant legal challenges after implementation of the new law, especially since it may infringe on the 8th Amendment. He said: “They’re going to challenge it under the 8th Amendment [of the] Constitution. They’re going to claim that it is a cruel and unusual punishment for someone who has served their time and for the rest of their life have to be castrated.”
Johnson agrees that child molestation is a severe crime in and of itself but that the punishment is already on a par with time served in prison followed with probation or parole.
From NTD News