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Surgical castration approved by Louisiana lawmakers as possible punishment for child sex offenders

Baton Rouge, Louisiana. — Louisiana judges could order surgical castration of people convicted of sex crimes against young children under a law approved Monday, and if Republican Gov. Jeff Landry signs it into law, the state would apparently be the first to impose a such sanction.

The Republican Party-controlled Legislature passed the bill giving judges the ability to sentence a person to surgical castration after that person is convicted of certain aggravated sex crimes — including rape, incest and molestation. sexual assault – against a child under 13 years old.

A handful of states – including Alabama, California, Florida and Texas have laws in place allowing chemical castration. In some of these states, offenders can opt for surgery if they choose. But the National Conference of State Legislatures said it knew of no states that allow judges to mandate surgical castration.

For more than 16 years, Louisiana judges have been authorized to order chemical castration of people convicted of such crimes, although this punishment is rarely imposed. Chemical castration uses medications that block testosterone production to decrease libido. Surgical castration is a much more invasive procedure.

“It’s a consequence,” Republican Sen. Valarie Hodges said during a committee hearing on the bill in April. “It’s a step beyond just going to jail and getting out.”

The bill received overwhelming approval in both Republican-dominated chambers. Votes against the bill came primarily from Democrats. However, it was a Democratic lawmaker — state Sen. Regina Barrow — who authored the legislation.

Currently, 2,224 people are imprisoned in Louisiana for sex crimes against children under 13. If the bill becomes law, it could only apply to those who were convicted of a crime committed on or after August 1 of this year.

The author of Bill speaks

Barrow said this would be another step in punishing horrific crimes. She hopes the legislation will have a deterrent effect.

“We’re talking about babies being raped by someone,” Barrow said at a committee meeting in April. “This is inexcusable.”

Although castration is often associated with men, Barrow said the law could apply to women. She also stressed that the imposition of the sanction would be done on a case-by-case basis and at the discretion of the judges. Punishment is not automatic.

If an offender “fails to appear or refuses to undergo” surgical castration after a judge orders the procedure, he or she could be charged with “failure to comply” and face an additional three to five years in prison, depending on the wording of the law Project.

The legislation also states that a medical expert must “determine whether the offender is a suitable candidate” for the procedure before it is carried out.

Louisiana’s current chemical castration law has been in effect since 2008, but officials said that from 2010 to 2019 they found only one or two instances where it was used.

The bill, along with bills on chemical castration, were defeated, with opponents saying it is “cruel and unusual punishment” and questioning the effectiveness of the procedure. Additionally, some Louisiana lawmakers questioned whether the punishment was too harsh for someone likely to have committed a single offense.

“For me, when I think of a child, once is too many,” Barrow responded.

“Where do we draw the line?”

Late last month, Voice of the Experienced’s Bruce Reilly told CBS New Orleans affiliate WWL-TV that there was already too much brutality in Louisiana. He said: “There’s not supposed to be mutilation of people’s bodies and that’s what this does: it mutilates people’s bodies.”

He went on to say, “Now we’re going to add cutting off someone’s testicles. …Where do we demarcate our punishments? »

He pointed out that Louisiana has one of the highest rates of wrongful convictions in the country and he fears what could happen to someone who is actually not guilty. “I think 10 other people who could have benefited from this sanction have been exonerated,” he said.

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