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Louisiana votes in favour of surgical castration

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The bill would allow judges to sentence convicted child sex offenders to surgical castration in Louisiana from August.
louisiana surgical castration

Convicted child sex offenders in the U.S. state of Louisiana could be punished with surgical castration — an irreversible procedure that removes a person’s testicles or ovaries.

Both houses of the State Legislature have approved a bill. It will now need to be signed off by Louisiana’s Republican Governor before the legislation is expected to come into effect in August.

Here’s what it would mean.

Background

Castration is used in some U.S. states as a criminal punishment to reduce a person’s sex drive.

Further, it can be administered as an injection to reduce hormone production. This is known as ‘chemical castration,’ and was legalised in Louisiana to punish child sex offenders in 2008. It is also used in Florida, Texas, California, and Alabama.

Chemical castration requires ongoing injections to remain effective. Surgical castration is considered a more invasive procedure. For a male offender, it can permanently block testosterone production.

Surgical castration in Louisiana

Democrat Senator Regina Ashford introduced a bill to allow judges to sentence convicted child sex offenders to surgical castration in Louisiana earlier this year.

Under the legislation, a court-appointed medical expert will assess an offender to determine their suitability for surgery.

However, if an offender refuses surgical castration, they could face an additional five years imprisonment for failing to follow court orders.

The bill

The bill was debated in both houses, leading to an amendment ensuring offenders under 17 cannot be surgically castrated.

Accordingly, the final bill can be used against offenders found guilty of sexual abuse of a child under 13. It passed on Monday with the support of both major parties.

The legislation will now need final approval from Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry before being signed into law.

Criticism

Human rights advocates have criticised the use of castration as criminal punishment.

The American Civil Liberties Union argue that forced castration violates the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment which bans “cruel and unusual punishment” in the justice system.

The National Patient Advocate Foundation has previously raised concerns about medical interventions as punishment, saying that “medical decisions should remain between a patient and their provider.”

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