Is chemical castration an acceptable punishment for male sex offenders?

Resources used to support "no"

There is overwhelming evidence that indicates that our current system of punishing or treating sexual offenders is failing us. We do not intervene in an effective manner when young offenders 1st exhibit deviant sexual behavior. This behavior is usually not addressed until it escalates into a violent act of rape, sodomy, or sexual homicide. This flaw in the status quo manifests itself in the estimated 700,000 women who are raped or sexually assaulted in the United States each year.

Chemical castration is not an acceptable form of punishment for male sex offenders, however. Many people argue that chemical castration is "cruel and unusual punishment," but others are more concerned with the ramifications of this kind of treatment. Chemical castration as a cure for a disease may be simplistic because it implies that sex crimes are a result of a medical condition. While depo-provera may be effective in lowering sex drive, administering this drug does not address the real motivation behind this behavior. Furthermore, there is no proven effective "cure" for pedophiles, which means that chemical castration has no value for these crimials. Another criticism is the lack of uniform guidelines for use of chemical castration across the states. And what incentives are avilable to insure that criminals will continue treatment once they are released from custody?

Crimes like rape are committed by sex offenders out of the desire for power over others, and the more violent sex crimes are committed to release rage on victims. Chemical castration may lower the sex drive, but it is not clear that it will erase these motivations for sex crimes. Furthermore, a sex offender may deepen his rage when he contemplates his loss from chemical castration, possibly increasing the probability of further volatile situations. [Laura Matthies]



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