While the national news has largely focused on Alabama’s new abortion law, the state has also implemented another drastic measure that also made headlines. That’s because the state passed a law requiring anyone who has been convicted of a sex crime against a minor under 13 to undergo chemical castration in order to obtain parole. What many people don’t know, according to Oceanside child molestation lawyer Peter M. Liss, though is that California actually already has a similar on the books.
California’s California Castration Law
In both the Alabama and California laws, those who have committed sex crimes against a victim under 13 are required to undergo chemical castration in order to obtain parole and be released from prison. The big differences in the laws are the fact that California only places this restriction on those who have a prior offense (although California does allow a judge to order chemical castration on a first offense), California allows offenders to choose surgical castration if they prefer, and that Alabama is requiring offenders to pay for the sterilization themselves. Under California law, the offense must involve the use of force as well. Whether or not these distinctions make the California law more constitutional is a matter of debate that even many Oceanside sex crimes attorneys disagree on and ultimately the answer won’t really be cleared up unless one or both laws are brought before the Supreme Court.
Arguments Against Mandatory Chemical Castration
The most obvious argument against these castration laws is that they should be considered cruel and unusual punishment. While the majority of effects only last as long as the offender continues to take the drugs and can be reversed by the discontinued use of the drugs, the effects go far beyond that of a reduced sex drive. Some users have increased body fat, larger than normal mammary glands (meaning they develop male breasts) and they have reduced bone density. Some of these effects, most notably the reduced bone density are not reversible and can contribute to dangerous conditions such as cardiovascular disease. The hormones may also change a person’s personality and cause depression. Whether or not these risks are enough to be considered cruel and unusual punishment is debatable though.
Perhaps the bigger concern is for those who are wrongly convicted and made to suffer these side effects as well as being unable to engage in normal, healthy sexual activity during the duration of the treatments. While this risk is smaller under California’s law, which requires two convictions rather than only one like the Alabama law, it is still a potential problem, especially considering that child molestation cases involving young victims often rely on the testimony of a scared child who may have a vivid imagination or who may have been illegally coached by a parent. While Oceanside child molest attorneys are sometimes able to successfully fight such testimonies, juries, judges and prosecutors often try to error on the side of a scared child because they hope to protect those they see as innocent victims.
Additionally, many critics of castration point out that the practice does not even effectively stop all offenders from committing further crimes. Testosterone boosting drugs can even be purchased to negate some of the effects. If the process isn’t even always effective, it seem unfair to inflict on convicts.
If you have been accused of child molestation, you need to work with a top sex crime defense lawyer in Oceanside. Peter M. Liss can help. Please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.
Creative Commons Image by Markus Kniebes