Alabama's new chemical castration law, constitutional questions

A woman is in Jackson County jail on charges of sexual abuse of a child under the age of twelve. A grand jury indicted Connie Summerford and she was booked into the jail late last night. Police aren't releasing details of her case, but it got us thinking about a new law in Alabama.

Posted: Jun 21, 2019 6:27 PM
Updated: Jun 21, 2019 7:41 PM

The new law will require child sex offenders to have chemical castration, as a condition of parole. We wondered if the law will apply to women.

If Summerford is convicted, the law won't apply to her because it's not yet in effect, but an arrest like this in September would bring up questions about constitutionality.

"It'll make 'em think maybe," said Paul Jones.

Some people in Jackson County tell me they hope the chemical castration law will deter people from committing the crime. The procedure is supposed to halt a person's sex drive, but the law doesn't mention gender.

"This bill absolutely would apply to a man or a women it specifically states any person," said Marcus Helstowski, Huntsville attorney.

He says how the procedure is carried out isn't defined in the law.

"We probably need further explanation to determine whether or not the act is constitutional and treats each and every person in the state of Alabama equally," Helstowski said.

A doctor who treats sexual disorders at John Hopkins told ABC News, the procedure can be done on women, but hormonal differences can cause problems.

This law goes into effect September 1st, but it's likely to face constitutional challenges before then. Not all sex offenders in Alabama are eligible for parole. This would only apply to those who are on parole. Helstowski says that could cause an issue down the line, because people convicted of lesser sentences will face chemical castration while people who have to serve their entire sentence will not.

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