HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has signed into law a chemical castration measure for sex offenders convicted of abusing a child 13 and younger.
The bill is due to go into effect Sept. 1, but state officials are just getting started as far as what happens next.
The new chemical castration law will be applied as a condition of parole, for sex crimes involving younger victims, but, many of those same crimes are not parole-eligible. So, it`s expected to address a relatively small number of cases.
The governor signed the measure into law Monday.
"This bill is a step toward protecting children in Alabama.”
Alabama Rep. Steve Hurst, R-Talladega, has been pushing the measure for several years.
Hurst told WHNT News 19 Tuesday the effort is aimed at protecting children -- and he challenges the idea that the practice would be barbaric.
"What could be more barbaric than molesting a small child?"
The Alabama Department of Corrections would be responsible for administering the testosterone-curbing drug starting a month before an inmate`s release.
If the inmate refuses the drug, he or she would not be parole-eligible.
The Alabama Department of Corrections said Tuesday it`s reviewing the legislation and protocols for administering the drug are pending.
The Alabama Department of Public Health is supposed to administer the drugs once the identified individuals are released.
Under the new law, failure to take the drugs, or receive the related injection, would be considered a violation of parole and the former inmate would face the prospect of having his parole revoked. The law also calls for a new charge, a Class C felony, to be applied to anyone who is supposed to take the drug, but fails to do. That charge would carry a sentence of 1 to 10 years in prison.
Hurst said he expects to meet soon with the governor`s office, state corrections officials and the health agency to work on plans -- including how to ensure adequate funding, and how to handle litigation.
The ACLU of Alabama says the new law is like a return to the dark ages in terms of treatment of prisoners.
"It certainly presents serious issues about involuntary medical treatment, informed consent, the right to privacy, and cruel and unusual punishment," said Randall Marshall, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama. "This kind of punishment for crimes is something that has been around throughout history, but as we’ve gotten more enlightened in criminal justice we’ve gotten away from this kind of retribution."
Marshall said the new law is not likely to be challenged in court until it is actually implemented.
Hurst is also hopeful that they`ll be able to find doctors or a research facility willing to test and analyze the d-n-a and blood of those required to take the drugs. He believes that through research, officials can better determine which drugs work best for each individual offender.