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Louisiana Lawmakers Approve Surgical Castration of Sex Offenders

Louisiana lawmakers approved a bill Monday that would expand judges’ powers to sentence people convicted of certain sex crimes against children to physical castration.

If passed, the bill would allow judges to order surgical castration, more invasive than the chemical methods outlined in a 2008 law. Surgical castration orders would be allowed in cases involving victims under the age of 13.

Chemical castrations involve the administration of hormonal drugs that decrease sexual performance and libido, while surgical or physical castrations involve the removal of the testicles or ovaries to stop the production of sex hormones. Chemical castrations, unlike physical methods, are generally fleeting and are already authorized in Louisiana for sex crimes against children such as rape, sexual assault, and sexual assault.

The bill is still expected to be signed into law by Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry. (R). It requires a court-appointed medical expert to confirm that the person is fit to undergo surgery and that it be carried out while they are still in custody.

If a person refuses the procedure, they face charges of up to five years in prison.

“We have a responsibility and a duty to the most vulnerable among us…I don’t think our children are safe,” said Sen. Regina Ashford Barrow (D-D), the bill’s sponsor, during from a hearing last month. . Barrow acknowledged that his previous attempts to introduce the bill were rebuffed, in part because of the high number of wrongful convictions in Louisiana. However, she expressed concern about “repeat offenders” and stressed that victims’ lives were “forever changed” by sexual violence.

Bruce Reilly, a community organizer who advocates on behalf of formerly incarcerated people, argued before the committee that surgical methods risk violating constitutional rights and that Louisiana does not need additional castration methods.

“Our concern is that we’re entering the physical realm of mutilating someone’s body, and that’s a slippery slope as to what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment,” he told the gathering. state legislature.

“There is no conclusive evidence that castration actually eliminates this problem in a person’s mind,” he added. “…It doesn’t necessarily impact the person’s long-term criminal proclivities.” »

In a statement posted online, the Restorative Action Alliance called the bill “state-sanctioned eugenics” and an “affront to bodily autonomy” that would violate the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Others cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The National Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws called the bill “ineffective at best and barbaric at worst.”

A handful of U.S. states – including California, Texas and Florida – allow castration of people convicted of child sex offenses, although some only allow chemical castration, while others offer physical castration as an optional option. Countries like South Korea and Poland allow chemical castration for some sex offenders, but others have abandoned the practice.

John McMillan, a bioethics professor at the University of Otago in New Zealand, said the United States stands out on the world stage by allowing castration orders in some states. Research on the effects of physical castration on sexual offense recidivism is limited, he added, in part because “it has only happened in a small number of countries.”

A few studies suggest that physical castration can help offenders who choose it as a treatment option, but “the evidence, even when it’s clearly what someone wants, is pretty weak,” he said.

“What reason does the court have to believe that physical castration will actually work? You might end up just removing body parts from people,” McMillan said. “Think of it like removing someone’s hand because they’re a thief. It’s tempting to think that this has more to do with the symbolic purpose of punishing and doing something punitive rather than something that will eliminate offenses in the future.

washingtonpost

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