Alabama Passes Law Allowing Chemical Castration for Certain Sex Offenders
Alabama’s Governor signed into law providing for chemical castration to certain convicted sex offenders.
Who Does the Law Apply To?
Chemical castration will be administered to paroled sex offenders who had victims between ages 7 and 13. Sex offenders with victims 6 and under are ineligible for parole in Alabama.
What is Chemical Castration?
Chemical castration is done with the drug medroxyprogestrone, or a similar drug. The drug is administered through injections. These drugs reduce or block the production of testosterone. The logic goes that less testosterone will reduce a person’s sex drive, making the person less likely to commit another sex-related crime.
How Will the Chemical Castration Program Work?
Persons paroled from prison will be subject to chemical castration as a condition of their parole. Parolees will be given information on the program and the effects of treatment.
The person must begin treatment within one month of leaving prison. Treatment continues until a court determines that treatment is no longer necessary. Intentionally ending the treatment is a felony.
A person could also choose to not be paroled and serve out their entire prison sentence, in which case they would prevent receiving treatment.
Treatment is overseen by the Department of Public Health. The Department will share medical records with the Department of Corrections.
The offender is responsible for the costs, unless the person is found indigent, in which case they get free chemical castration. Read the entire law here.
Critics of chemical castration laws contend that these programs are coercive – a person either stays in prison or consents to treatment. In addition, the efficacy of the program is questionable. The only data to form an opinion on success rates comes from sex-offenders providing self-reports, which is considered an unreliable way to gather data and information for scientific purposes.
Critics also point out there are other motivating factors for sex offenses, such as mental health issues and drug use. Reducing such individual’s testosterone would be an ineffective way to prevent recidivism for those offenders.
Do Other States Have Chemical Castration?
Michigan does not have a chemical castration provision in its Sex Offender Registration Act (some of which was recently found unconstitutional and the law must be rewritten).
Several states have chemical castration provisions in their sex offender laws, including California, Florida, Louisiana, Montana, Texas, and Wisconsin.
However, it should be noted that it’s unclear how often these states actually enforce the chemical castration laws. California was the first state to create a chemical castration law. Only two parolees in California are receiving chemical castration treatment (One person is receiving mandatory treatment while the other person receives it voluntarily). Authorities in Montana and Louisiana noted that each state was only aware of one instance of chemical castration in the last year.
Georgia had a chemical castration law but repealed the law. Oregon had a pilot program but repealed the program.
Texas law actually provides for optional surgical castration for repeat offenders.
Call ArborYpsi Law
Sam Bernstein is a Criminal Defense Attorney in Washtenaw County, Michigan.
ArborYpsi Law is located at 4158 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor, MI.