Louisiana Close to a Big Penalty for Sex Crimes

Louisiana could be first state to OK surgical castration for such crimes, if governor signs bill
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 4, 2024 2:08 PM CDT
Louisiana Close to OKing Criminals' Surgical Castration
Stock photo of the Louisiana State Capitol.   (Getty Images/CRobertson)

Louisiana judges could order surgical castration for people convicted of sex crimes against young children under legislation approved Monday, and if Republican Gov. Jeff Landry signs it into law, the state apparently would be the first with such a punishment. The GOP-controlled Legislature passed the bill that gives judges the option to sentence someone to surgical castration after they have been convicted of certain aggravated sex crimes—including rape, incest, and molestation—against a child under 13, per the AP. A handful of states—including California, Florida, and Texas—have laws allowing for chemical castration. In some of those states, offenders can opt for the surgical procedure. But the National Conference of State Legislatures said it's unaware of any states that allow judges to impose surgical castration.

For more than 16 years, judges in Louisiana have been allowed to order those convicted of such crimes to receive chemical castration, though that punishment is rarely issued. Chemical castration uses medications that block testosterone production to decrease sex drive; surgical castration is a much more invasive procedure. "This is a consequence," Republican state Sen. Valarie Hodges said in April. "It's a step over and beyond just going to jail and getting out." The bill received overwhelming approval in both of the GOP-dominated chambers. Votes against the bill mainly came from Democrats. However, a Democratic lawmaker—state Sen. Regina Barrow—authored the legislation.

If the bill becomes law, it can be applied only to those who've been convicted of a crime that occurred on or after Aug. 1 of this year. Barrow has said she hopes the legislation will serve as a deterrent. "We are talking about babies who are being violated by somebody," Barrow said during the April meeting. While castration is often tied to men, Barrow said the law could also be applied to women. The bill, and chemical castration bills, have received pushback, with opponents calling it "cruel and unusual punishment" and questioning the procedure's effectiveness. Some Louisiana lawmakers have also asked if the punishment was too harsh for someone with a single offense. "For me, when I think about a child, one time is too many," Barrow responded. More here.

(More castration stories.)

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