Alabama governor signs chemical castration bill into law

Highway road in Alabama with welcome sign and text on street with nobody and sweet home text with Governor Kay Ivey

Highway road in Alabama with welcome sign and text on street with nobody and sweet home text with Governor Kay Ivey

Sex offenders who have attacked children younger than 13 will now be chemically castrated by law in Alabama.

Under the new law, a person required to undergo the chemical castration must begin the treatment no less than one month prior to their release from custody, and must continue treatment until the court determine it's no longer necessary. It says offenders must pay for the treatment, and they can't be denied parole exclusively based on an inability to pay.

Ivey, a Republican serving as the 54th governor of Alabama since 2017, has made no public statement on the measure and it was not known if she supported it until yesterday, which was the last day she could sign the bill.

Several states have versions of chemical castration in their laws.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Steve Hurst, R-Munford, and passed on May 30, just before the end of the legislative session. A judge, not a doctor, would decide when the procedure could be stopped; or, the convict can decide to stop the procedure and serve out the rest of his term in prison. Although offenders must pay for their own chemical castration, but they can not be denied parole for their inability to afford the procedure.

The piece added that "chemical castration' is a misnomer, as the process leaves the testes intact, can be reversed and does not prevent a man from reproducing".

Once released, if the parolee decides to stop receiving the treatment, they will be found in violation of their parole and immediately sent back to prison.

"It certainly presents serious issues about involuntary medical treatment, informed consent, the right to privacy and cruel and unusual punishment. It's about power, it's about control", said Randall Marshall, the executive director with the ACLU of Alabama.

"It's not clear that this actually has any effect and whether it's even medically proven", Marshall said.

"I worry about any precedent that allows the state to use health care as a form of punishment", Donovan said.

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