Legislators in the U.S. territory of Guam have voted in favor of a measure to allow the Department of Corrections to begin chemically castrating pedophiles and other convicted sex offenders as a condition of their parole.
The legislation, dubbed the Chemical Castration for Sex Offenders Act, narrowly passed by an 8-7 vote on Thursday.
"This is a good day for the island of Guam," said Sen. Brant McCreadie (R), who introduced the bill. "It’s an important message; it’s a message that we as a body will not support this type of crime any more. It’s a stern, loud-and-clear message to any offenders out there that there’s going to be consequences."
Pending a signature from Gov. Eddie Calvo (R), the legislation will trigger a four-year pilot program in which sex offenders can be selected to undergo anti-androgen treatment. The treatment uses a hormone medication to control inappropriate sexual behavior by reducing a person's sex drive.
Vice Speaker Benjamin J. Cruz (D) expressed concern Wednesday that the bill could spark other legislation based on the eye-for-an-eye punishment model.
"Is there going to be a piece of legislation to cut out tongues, cut out hands?" he asked.
Nine U.S. states -- California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Oregon, Texas and Wisconsin -- have versions of chemical castration in their laws, as reported by CNN. Both California and Florida, for instance, require mandatory injections for repeat sex offenders and discretionary injections for first-time offenders, although the Florida law has only been invoked a few times since its passage in 1997.
Don Grubin, a professor of forensic psychiatry at Newcastle University in England, called the controversial practice "symbolic."
"In a way, I liken it to cutting the hand off the thief," he previously told CNN.
McCreadie said the new law would be a "first step in addressing Guam's rape problem."
In 2013, Guam saw a rate of 64.2 reported rapes per 100,000 people -- more than double the national average of 25.2 per 100,000 people, according to USA Today. Of the 50 states, only Alaska had a higher rate -- 87.6 per 100,000 people.
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