‘Cruel and Unusual Punishment’? – Louisiana Lawmakers Approve Surgical Castration for Child Sex Offenders 

Gavel with open book and scales on table

Gavel with open book and scales on table

By Leela Bronner

BATON ROUGE, LA – Louisiana lawmakers this week approved surgical castration as a new sentencing option for people convicted of sex crimes against young children, and if Republican Gov. Jeff Landry signs this into law, the state will use that punishment, reported AP News.

AP News detailed the Legislature, controlled by the Republican party, “passed the bill giving judges the option to sentence someone to surgical castration after the person has been convicted of certain aggravated sex crimes – including rape, incest and molestation – against a child under 13.”

According to AP News, states such as California, Florida, and Texas have laws that allow for chemical castration, and offenders may be able to opt for the surgical procedure if they prefer. Additionally, chemical castration has been legal in Louisiana for over 16 years, though “that punishment is rarely issued.”

Surgical castration is much more invasive than chemical castration, which “uses medications that block testosterone production to decrease sex drive,” said AP News.

Republican state Sen. Valarie Hodges said during a committee hearing on the bill that “This is a consequence. It’s a step over and beyond just going to jail and getting out.”

While the bill has received “overwhelming approval” by Republicans and “votes against the bill mainly came from Democrats,” state Sen. Regina Barrow, a Democrat, authored the legislation, AP News revealed. 

Barrow, as reported by AP News, argued this measure would be an extra step in punishing horrific crimes, with the hope the legislation will act as a deterrent.

Barrow explained that while castration is typically associated with men, the law could be applied to women. She also “stressed that imposing the punishment would be by individual cases and at the discretion of judges,” according to AP News. 

The bill also suggests that offenders who evade ordered surgical castration can be charged with “failure to comply” and face up to five additional years in prison. 

As reported by AP News, opponents of the bill have said it is “cruel and unusual punishment” and questioned the effectiveness of the procedure. Some Louisiana lawmakers have also questioned if the punishment is too harsh for non-repeating offenders. 

To this, Barrow replied “when I think about a child, one time is too many.”

AP News stated that “there are 2,224 people imprisoned in Louisiana for sex crimes against children younger than 13.” If put into law, the bill “can only be applied to those who have been convicted of a crime that occurred on or after Aug. 1 of this year.”

About The Author

Leela Bronner is a second year student at the University of Vermont, majoring in Psychological Science and minoring in Neuroscience and Law and Society. In continuing her education while working as an intern at the Davis Vanguard, Leela aims to gain valuable insights on the intersection of the legal system with mental health institutions. She hopes to make an impact on criminal justice and prison reform while pursuing a career in investigative work or psychological research. In her free time, Leela enjoys anything creative, spending quality time with others, and watching movies.

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