Sunday, March 13, 2016


As mentioned recently on this blog, Alabama is pushing a bill that would exclude teen sexting from the growing list of registerable offenses. However, it does not go far enough. So Lenore Skenazy of the "Free Range Kids" website (a good website that is among the growing skeptics of the sex offender registry) has created an online petition to compel the state legislature to change the laws to stop criminalizing teens for engaging in behavior best addressed by parents, not police. Take a few moments to sign this petition today. Click the link below to access it.


According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 14 is the most common age of sex offenders. 

That stat shocks most people, but it shouldn't.  Young people have sex with other young people. That can be against the law in America, even when it is consensual.

This has led to over 200,000 minors being placed on the Sex Offender Registry. Once on it, their lives become a nightmare. They can't live near a school, find work, or even go online. Often they face death threats.

Criminalizing consensual sex or sexting is not making our children any safer. In fact, our kids have a better chance of ending up ON the registry than of being harmed BY someone on it.

For these reasons, we urge you to decriminalize consensual sex or sexting between young people past puberty. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Daily Beast's take on Hurst's 'Wurst slicing bill is the best i've read so far.

The Daily Beast makes a few valid points, especially regarding wrongful convictions.

03.04.16 3:40 PM ET
By: Brandy Zadrozny
Alabama Lawmaker Wants Sex Offenders To Pay For Their Own Castration

Only one small problem—Alabama has wrongfully convicted at least nine men of the kind of sex offenses that would qualify for this lawmaker’s bill.

An Alabama lawmaker known for parading around on a giant gun-shaped barbecue grill has once again taken up his pet project: the surgical castration of sex offenders.

“This bill would provide that any person over the age of 21 years who is convicted of certain sex offenses against a child 12 years of age or younger would be surgically castrated before his or her release from the custody of the Department of Corrections,” HB 365 reads. “This bill would require that the cost of the procedure be paid by the adult criminal sex offender.”

The point of such a bill is clear. The sexual abuse of a young child is horrific, and who wouldn’t want to prevent a repeated attack?

But castration—whether by surgically removing a man’s testicles or chemically diminishing his libido with injections of synthetic female hormone Depo-Provera—has never been proven as an effective means to curb such violent sexual abuse. Despite popular belief, neither forms of castration are guaranteed to cause impotence. Up to 10 percent of surgically castrated men are able to regain sexual function after the procedure.

What’s more, sexual abuse experts say a one-cut-fixes-all strategy does nothing to address the underlying disorder that leads an abuser to commit such a heinous crime. Still, at least seven states have some law on the books for the chemical castration of sex offenders, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

“It’s naive to think this is a panacea,” Dr. Fred Berlin, founder of The Johns Hopkins Sexual Disorders Clinic, told The Washington Post decades ago, a position he has maintained every subsequent time a reporter has called asking for his opinion on the matter. Not only is it wrong to use a medical treatment as punishment, he has said, but there’s no reason to believe it will have the intended effect.

And then there’s the problem of wrongful convictions, a thing Alabama knows a bit about.
Since 1989, 476 people wrongfully convicted of sexual assault or child sex abuse have been exonerated across the U.S., according to the National Registry of Exonerations, a project run by the University of Michigan. Nine of those have come from Alabama.

Antonio Williams spent over four years in an Alabama prison serving a life sentence for the rape of a 7-year-old girl, who was interviewed by investigators after it was discovered she had contracted a sexually transmitted disease. Williams was vindicated in 2011 after the girl told a social worker a different man—not Williams—had raped her, but threatened to hurt her if she said anything.

In 2006, 24-year-old Birmingham man Zachary Noah Smith denied, but was ultimately convicted of, sexually molesting his 3-year-old daughter. Six years later, his daughter came forward and told a counselor that no abuse had occurred, but that she had been pressured to lie by her great-grandmother. Smith’s conviction was reversed by a new trial.

Convictions can be reversed, surgical castration cannot.

Luckily, Hurst’s castration bill is unlikely to see the light of day, as similar bills proposed in previous sessions died in committee.

In 2013, Hurst told a local paper, The Anniston Star, “I’ll introduce it every year until it gets passed.”
An email requesting comment was not returned and no one answered Hurst’s phone.

Hurst was elected to Alabama’s House of Representatives in 1998 as a Democrat (he switched parties in 2010). He is also the owner of a Talladega pawn and gun shop, and has sponsored legislation including a successful “Stand Your Ground” bill in 2006 that codified a gun owner’s right to shoot almost anyone, and a bill that would require public school students to read the Congressional Record (with the prayer) for 15 minutes each day.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Looks like Hurst has been pushing this castration issue longer than I thought.

The Montgomery Advertiser has reported that Steve Hurst has pimped this silly mandatory surgical castration bill since 2005! That's longer than I first reported.

Alabama bill would require sex offenders pay for castration
Melissa Brown, Associated Press 12 p.m. CST March 8, 2016

An Alabama lawmaker is calling for convicted sex offenders to pay for their own surgical castration.

Steve Hurst, a Republican from Munford, has introduced a bill that would require sex offenders older than 21 to pay for their own surgical castration before being released from state custody.

The bill would limit the procedure to people convicted of "certain sex offenses" against victims 12 years old or younger.

Hurst has attempted to pass similar legislation for more than a decade, introducing nearly identical bills seven times since 2006, most of which never made it out of committee. He said he was moved to begin pushing for the legislation after a foster parent advocacy group visited his office some years ago and relayed a "horrible" story of abuse.

"I've often wondered what that child went through, physically and mentally, and what kind of shape he's in now," Hurst said Monday. "They (sex offenders) have marked these children for life. They will never get over it. And if they've marked children for life, they need to be marked for life."

Hurst in 2005 agreed to remove castration requirements from legislation setting tougher sentences for sex offenders. Several House members at the time told The Associated Press they feared the castration language would have made the bill unconstitutional. In 2011, Hurst co-sponsored a bill that classified the sexual abuse of a child 6 years or younger as a capital offense, allowing courts to sentence offenders to life without parole.

Several states already have laws mandating chemical or voluntary surgical castration, though it's unclear how often the procedures are used. No states have mandatory surgical castration laws.

Chemical castrations allow sex offenders to receive regular injections of a drug that lowers testosterone to pre-puberty levels and reduces libido.

Civil rights groups like the American Civil Liberties Union argue that castration is a "cruel and unusual punishment."

"Some people have said it's inhumane," Hurst said. "But what's more inhumane than molesting a child?"

Dr. Frederick Berlin, founder of a sexual disorders clinic at John Hopkins University, said lowering testosterone levels reduces libido and combats sexual urges, which could possibly reduce recidivism in some cases.

But not all sex offenses are sexually motivated, Berlin said. Offenders may be motivated by drug and alcohol abuse, anger or a fundamental lack of conscience.

"There are many sex offenders who aren't driven by intense sexual urges," Berlin said. "Some of these folks have other mental health issues, so it could just lull us into a false sense of security."

In addition, if not closely monitored, offenders could possibly reverse the procedure by taking testosterone, which can be procured online. Mandated chemical castration can be monitored more closely because doctors can notify authorities if a patient doesn't show up for a regular treatment.

"Just to do it as a one-glove-fits-all is very unlikely to be helpful," Berlin said. "I do think there is a role for medicines that lower sexual drive and enable people to be in better control. But this should be through a collaborative effort between the criminal justice and the scientific medical community."

Hurst has considered chemical castration legislation, and might again in the future, but he worries the drugs to induce chemical castration could become less effective over time. He realizes surgical castration may not stop offenders in all cases, but it makes a strong statement.

"If you take one step forward, it's better than taking no steps at all," Hurst said.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

After trying and failing eight times to get surgical castration bill passed, Steve Hurst thinks the 9th time is the charm

How many times am I going to have to waste space on this bad bill? He's been pushing this since 2007, and the legislature won't bother to act on it.

Alabama lawmaker introduces sex offender castration bill
By Matt Fernandez
Published: March 4, 2016, 10:26 pm  Updated: March 4, 2016, 10:29 pm

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — An Alabama lawmaker has a plan to permanently and physically punish someone convicted of certain sex offenses against children.

The bill, known as HB 365, would make those sex offenders have to get surgically castrated before they leave prison.

HB 365 was introduced by State Representative Steve Hurst, R-Calhoun County.

He said the bill will be for sex offenders over the age of 21 that committed sex offenses against children 12 years old and younger.

“They have marked this child for life and the punishment should fit the crime,” said Hurst.

This is not Hurst’s first time introducing the bill.

“I had people call me in the past when I introduced it and said don’t you think this is inhumane? I asked them what’s more inhumane than when you take a little infant child, and you sexually molest that infant child when the child cannot defend themselves or get away, and they have to go through all the things they have to go through. If you want to talk about inhumane–that’s inhumane,” said Hurst.

Hurst is hoping this would make sex offenders think twice.

“If we do something of this nature it would deter something like this happening again in Alabama and maybe reduce the numbers,” said Hurst.

Residents have some mixed emotions about it.

“Somebody that wants to mess with a little girl or little boy that age should be castrated, and they should not be able to mess with any other kids,” said Keith Dison.

“I understand prison and going to prison for a long time for some kind of crime like that, but to physical mutilate someone…that’s a little out there…it’s crazy,” Jessica George said.

The bill will have to pass the judiciary committee before it’s heard by the Alabama House and Senate.