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Convicted paedophiles could soon be surgically castrated in US state

Paedophiles found guilty of a sex crime against a child in Louisiana could soon be ordered to undergo surgical castration in addition to prison time.

Politicians in the US state gave final approval to a bill on Monday that would allow judges to issue the order to those convicted of certain aggravated sex crimes against a child younger than 13.

These crimes include rape, incest and molestation.

If the bill becomes law, it can only be applied to men and women whose crime took place on or after 1 August this year.

Louisiana judges have had the power to order those convicted of such crimes to have chemical castration since 2008.

This method involves the use of drugs that block sex hormone production in order to decrease libido.

Surgical castration is a much more invasive procedure.

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A handful of other states – including California, Florida and Texas – also already have laws in place allowing for the punishment of chemical castration.

In some of those states, offenders can opt for the surgical procedure if they prefer.

The National Conference of State Legislatures has said it is unaware of any states that allow judges to impose surgical castration outright.

Speaking during a committee hearing on the Louisiana bill in April, Republican state Senator Valarie Hodges said: “This is a consequence… It’s a step over and beyond just going to jail and getting out.”

The bill received overwhelming approval in both of the Republican-dominated chambers on Monday.

Votes against the bill mainly came from Democrats, however a politician from the party authored the measure.

The legislation now heads to the desk of conservative Governor Jeff Landry, who will decide whether to sign it into law or veto it.

Currently, there are 2,224 people imprisoned in Louisiana for sex crimes against children younger than 13.

The sponsor of the bill, Democratic state Senator Regina Barrow, has said it would be an extra step in punishment for horrific crimes. She hopes the legislation will serve as a deterrent to help prevent such offences against children.

“We are talking about babies who are being violated by somebody,” Ms Barrow said during an April committee meeting.

“That is inexcusable.”

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While castration is often associated with men, Ms Barrow said the law could be applied to women, too.

She also stressed that imposing the punishment would be by individual cases and at the discretion of judges. The punishment is not automatic.

If an offender “fails to appear or refuses to undergo” surgical castration after a judge orders the procedure, they could be hit with “failure to comply” charge and face an additional three to five years in prison, according to the bill.

The legislation also stipulates that a medical expert must “determine whether that offender is an appropriate candidate” for the procedure before it’s carried out.

Very few offenders have been ordered to undergo chemical castration under Louisiana’s existing law.

Officials have said they could only think of one or two cases between 2010 and 2019.

The bill, and chemical castration bills, have received pushback, with opponents saying it is “cruel and unusual punishment” and questioned the effectiveness of the procedure.

Additionally some Louisiana politicians have questioned if the punishment was too harsh for someone who may have a single offence.

“For me, when I think about a child, one time is too many,” Ms Barrow responded.

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