Originally created 01/17/97

Chemical castration considered for sex offenders



ATLANTA - Last session, criminals faced chain gangs and the guillotine. This year, it's the medicine jar.

"This is not a joke," state Rep. George Grindley, R-Marietta, said Thursday of his proposal for chemical castration of child molesters.

Prison officials didn't want chain gangs, and a bill calling for murderers to be beheaded was quickly executed by a House committee.

But Grindley's proposal, allowing judges to order child molesters to have their sex drive eliminated medically, has been a big hit at the Capitol.

He even has signed up a Democratic leader, Rep. Billy Randall, D-Macon, head of the Special Judiciary Committee, as a co-sponsor.

"This is a tool I want for our kids," Grindley said. "It's like taking away a criminal's gun."

The lawmaker said chemical castration has been used successfully in Europe for a decade.

Teresa Nelson, director of the Georgia American Civil Liberties Union, said, "We're taking a look at it.

"If it is going to be effective treatment, it is not the sole treatment. It is combined with counseling and the individual's desire to change," said Nelson, a frequent critic of how state officials treat prisoners.

There's one more problem. Nelson noted that 10 percent of pedophiles in Georgia prisons are women.

"Obviously it's going to do nothing for them," she said.