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Lawmakers approve castration of child sex offenders

The capitol building in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Kezia Setyawan
The Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge in April 2022.

This story was produced by the LSU Manship School News Service.

BATON ROUGE–The Legislature gave final approval Monday to a bill that would allow surgical castration of convicted rapists and pedophiles whose victims are under age 13.

Under the bill, SB 371, judges would have the option to assess the penalty against people convicted of aggravated rape, aggravated crime against nature or aggravated incestuous crime.

Any surgery would be conducted inside the prisons by a doctor supplied by the Department of Public Safety and Corrections, and the court would have to find the defendant to be suitable for castration at least 60 days before treatment.

The bill was approved on the final day of the legislative session and now goes to Gov. Jeff Landry for his consideration.

During recent debates, some lawmakers said the bill violates ethical and human rights principles.

“Who does this affect most?” Rep. Edmond Jordan, D-Baton Rouge, asked in arguing that the bill would target Black men. “Before we were free and even afterwards in Jim Crow, how did they put other Black men in their place? They would take him, lynch him, and castrate him.”

But another Black lawmaker, Sen. Regina Ashford Barrow, D-Baton Rouge, authored the bill, and other Black legislators said such harsh measures must be taken.

“We have to stand and fight for children,” said Rep. Delisha Boyd, D-New Orleans. “I am an advocate for children who are victims of sexual assault.”

Under the bill, failure to submit to the court order of castration would carry with it a three- to five-year prison term on top of any other prison sentence imposed.

The bill notes that castration would not be done if it were contraindicated medically in any way.

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