- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 26, 2023

Two Republican lawmakers in New Mexico have put forward a bill that offers sex offenders a choice between chemical castration or jail time.

Representatives Stefani Lord and John Block introduced House Bill 128 to the state legislature, which would require sex offenders to undergo the procedure in order to be eligible for parole, according to KRQE, the CBS affiliate for Albuquerque. 

The offender would have to pay for the treatment out of pocket and sustain treatment for a month before being released. 

Those who stop the chemical castration — a type of therapy that gets the body to stop producing sex hormones and reduce a person’s sex drive — must return to jail. Those who don’t are liable for felony charges.  

The treatment option, if passed, would be available for sex offenders who victimized adults and children, though the latter is the target of the bill.

“Passage of this commonsense bill is the very least we can do to protect children in our communities from the horrific threat of pedophiles,” Mr. Block told Fox News Digital. “The New Mexico Legislature must now choose to either stand on the side of children’s safety by passing our bill or risk letting predators continue to abuse New Mexico children when let out on parole.”

The procedure would be administered by New Mexico’s Department of Health, which is reviewing the bill’s contents. 

Evidence is inconclusive on whether the treatment is effective.

On the one hand, a 2013 study cited by the Santa Fe New Mexican found that recidivism rates among sex offenders who underwent surgical castration ranged from 2.5% to 7.5% over a period of one to 35 years compared to 60% to 84% for sex offenders who did not undergo the treatment.

But turning off the hormone spigot is not seen as a be-all, end-all to disarming sex offenders. 

“Most crimes are not, you know, motivated by just [hormones],” Bonnie Sanchez, a licensed clinician who works with sex offenders in New Mexico’s Department of Corrections, told KRQE. “They’re motivated by various factors, you know, like anything else — the need for affection, need for attention, need for love.”

Other states have passed chemical castration laws, including Alabama, California, Florida, Iowa, Georgia, Louisiana, Montana, Oregon, Texas and Wisconsin.

• Matt Delaney can be reached at mdelaney@washingtontimes.com.

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