Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Louisiana legislature passes draconian surgical castration law, awaits governor's signature

While Louisiana and a handful of other states, including California, Texas and Florida, have long allowed courts to order chemical castration, surgical castration — far more intrusive — propels Louisiana to the forefront of a conversation over a form of punishment that has been more associated with countries, like Pakistan and Nigeria, with much harsher criminal sanctions, reported The New York Times.

The bill would permit judges to order people who have finished serving time for sex crimes against children under 13 to undergo surgical castration within a week of their release from prison. If the prisoner refuses, then an additional prison term of three to five years could be tacked on.

The bill allows for the procedure to be ordered for either men or women, through the removal of testes or ovaries, based on the recommendation of a court-appointed medical expert.

It now awaits the signature of Gov. Jeff Landry, a Republican who took office in January vowing to take a tough-on-crime approach. If adopted, it would apply to those convicted of crimes that occurred after Aug. 1.

“We are talking about babies who are being violated by somebody,” Ms. Barrow told lawmakers during an April committee meeting. “That is inexcusable.”

In some ways, the bill came as a surprise because surgical castration has not been at the forefront of anyone’s legislative wish list anywhere in the country.

Indeed, chemical castration has not been a major issue in recent years, either; the last state to enact such a law was Alabama, in 2019, and Louisiana has had only one case in the last decade, according to Ms. Boyd.

There is scant research to determine the efficacy of such laws.

In a 2005 paper published in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, researchers who reviewed the medical literature found that chemical castration “reduced testosterone levels and affected sexual deviance.” But they cautioned that because of its methodology the findings were of “questionable reliability.”

But Louisiana’s law is in another category altogether, and there is no evidence to suggest it would help reduce sex crimes against children, said Emily Horowitz, a sociology professor at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, and the author of “From Rage to Reason: Why We Need Sex Crime Laws Based on Facts, Not Fear.”

“This new law is solely vengeance and lacks any evidence of effectiveness and is aimed at a despised and powerless population that already is subject to dozens of draconian post-conviction collateral consequences,” she said. “There is virtually no evidence that increasing punishments will have any impact on sexual recidivism.”

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