by Ed Anderson, The Times Picayune
Tuesday April 08, 2008, 1:04 PM
BATON ROUGE -- A Senate committee today took the first step toward giving judges the authority to order sex offenders to undergo physical or chemical castration.
The Judiciary C Committee unanimously passed Senate Bill 144 by Sen. Nick Gautreaux, D-Abbeville, to give a judge the option to order medroxyprogestrone acetate, or MPA, to be administered to a first time sex offender. On a repeat violation, the judge must order the treatment for a specific time if a medical expert agrees the treatment can help the offender.
The offender can opt for physical castration on a first or second offense if he agrees to the surgery and a judge concurs.
Gautreaux said the state does not currently allow either type of castration. He said one or both forms of the procedure can help sex offenders lower their sex drive and possibly keep them from committing future sex crimes.
Gautreaux said either type of castration would be in addition to the jail time a judge orders the offender to serve. The castration cannot reduce the sentence or replace it, Gautreaux said.
"This does not make it easy on the sex offender," Gautreaux said.
The committee also approved Gautreaux's Senate Bill 143 to prohibit anyone convicted of a sex offense from wearing a mask, hood or costume to hand out candy or gifts on Halloween to children under 18. The bill was amended to prohibit the distribution of gifts by a sex offender who may or may not wear a costume at other times of the year, such as Easter and Christmas.
A violator could get at least six months and up to three years in jail with the first six months to be served behind bars.
Both bills must now be debated by the Senate.
Ed Anderson can be reached at email@example.com or (225) 342-5810.