Stop us if you’ve heard this before.
In advance of the 2014 legislative session, the Munford Republican is again proposing a bill that would require the surgery for sex offenders aged 21 and over whose victims were 12 and younger. Hurst also wants the prisoner to foot the bill for his own castration.
Regardless of your opinion about those who prey on the youngest, make no assumptions that this bill will become law. A similar Hurst-led bill didn’t emerge from committee in a previous session of the state Legislature. A repeat performance in Montgomery is likely.
Thank goodness — not because of any effort to empathize with those convicted of sex crimes against children, but because a society that mutilates prisoners as a combination of retribution and crime prevention lowers itself to a moral standard we should avoid.
Examples of such physical punishments exist in other nations; Americans unaccustomed to such judicial action see it as barbaric, or worse. Predetermined or fixed punishments, called “hudud” in Islamic law, can include the chopping off of hands for certain theft crimes or flogging for those proven to have committed adultery.
In this country, we do not flog the errant spouse or maim the burglar. We are far from perfect, but we are civilized. Nevertheless, convicted child predators often receive what they duly deserve — lengthy sentences that represent the worst parts of their crimes.
That a handful of states already have statutes allowing for chemical or surgical castration of sex offenders doesn’t mean Alabama should join that ignoble club. There are proper and efficient ways to punish sex offenders and protect the innocent. Castrating the guilty shouldn’t be an option.