[Jeffrey Schwartz, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons]

Louisiana Takes A Controversial Step To Protect Children

Last week, Louisiana is became the first state where judges can mandate surgical castration for offenders convicted of specific sex crimes against children, following a bill signed into law by Republican Governor Jeff Landry.

ABC News writes about the new law that may act as one of the biggest deterrents to protect children.

While the punishment of surgical castration is used in other countries that are known for harsher criminal sanctions — including the Czech Republic and Nigeria — it will be new in the U.S. The governor’s office confirmed to The Associated Press on Friday that Landry had signed the bill earlier in the week.

Proponents of the Louisiana law, which takes effect Aug. 1, hope the new possible punishment will deter people from committing sex crimes against children. Opponents argue that it is “cruel and unusual” punishment in violation of the U.S. Constitution. They say it is sure to face legal challenges.

The legislation gives Louisiana judges the option to sentence someone to surgical castration after the person has been convicted of certain aggravated sex crimes — including rape, incest and molestation — against a child under 13. The punishment is not automatic and would be by individual cases and at the discretion of the judge.

A handful of states, including Louisiana, California, Florida and Texas, have laws allowing for chemical castration for those guilty of certain sex crimes. In some of those states, offenders can opt for the surgical procedure if they prefer. But no other state allows judges to impose surgical castration outright, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The bill was authored by a Democrat, state Senator Regina Barrow, but received approval mostly from Republicans.

The Associated Press reported that “there are 2,224 people imprisoned in Louisiana for sex crimes against children younger than 13. If the bill becomes law, it can only be applied to those who have convicted a crime that occurred on or after Aug. 1 of this year.”

The new law comes on the heels of the Louisiana legislature making the news by passing a law requiring the Ten Commandments to be posted at public schools.

Opponents of the bill have argued that a state requiring a religious text in all classrooms violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

Governor Landry has claimed he’s ready for the court challenges, saying, ““I can’t wait to be sued.”

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